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A Dive into HR Innovation and Challenges

In this riveting episode of HR's most dangerous podcast, Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman take the stage at Transform in Las Vegas, Nevada, alongside a distinguished panel of HR leaders. Carolyn Frey from Hungry Root, Jessica Swank from Box, and Joey Lee from Panda share their unfiltered insights on a broad range of pressing HR topics. From leveraging AI in talent acquisition and management to navigating the complexities of remote work, this episode is packed with thought-provoking discussions. The panelists delve into how their organizations are pushing the envelope in HR technology, addressing talent shortages, and fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in today's evolving workplace. Tune in for an enlightening conversation that punches the recruiting industry right where it hurts, all while offering loads of snark and invaluable perspectives on HR's future.


Chad: Hello, listener. On March 12th, Joel and I were in Las Vegas, Nevada for Transform, where we got on stage with Carolyn Frey, chief People Officer over at Hungry Root. Jessica Swank, chief People Officer at Box, and Joey Lee, head of talent acquisition at Panda. They joined Joel and myself on stage for an unfiltered discussion, which spanned several, several topics that were important to them. Enjoy.

Intro: Hide your kids. Lock the Doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel: Oh, Yeah. What's up everybody? It's Carrot Top's Favorite podcast, AKA, the Chad and Cheese podcast?

Chad: Let's spit my beer out.

Joel: My name is Joel Cheesman. We got a rookie up here. Now you all know what I have to deal with. Anyway, I am your co-host, Joel Cheeseman joined as always, The mind to my freak, Chad Sowash is in the house. Somebody get him a sippy cup, please.

Chad: Sippy cup. I'll take it.

Joel: And we are excited to welcome Carolyn Frey. Raise your hand so we all know who you are. Chief People Officer at Hungry Root. Jessica Swank, chief People Officer at Box. And Joey Lee rounding up the starting four at Panda, also known as Panda Express and Panda inn. Correct. So there may be a coupon code for.

Chad: All the pandas.

Joel: For egg rolls later.

Chad: Check Underneath your seat. Check under underneath your seat. That might be There.

Joel: Everyone stick around.

Chad: Discount code underneath your seat. Possibly. It might not be. I don't know.

Joel: Alright. Alright guys, we, know your title and where you work. Some of the audience here doesn't know what the company does. Give us a quick Twitter explanation about what your companies do.

Carolyn Frey: Okay. I work for Hungry Root. We're a personalized online grocery subscription service. Super cool. You should check it out. There's a coupon code in everyone's bag. I think it's HRT40. AI driven. You fill out an assessment of you and your household preferences, any allergies, dietary restrictions, and then we prefill your grocery cart with a meal component. So you have your recipes and groceries for, the week. It's amazing and healthy, healthy eating forward. So making healthy, eating easy is our mission.

Jessica Swank: We'll keep trying. Okay. Persistence. Jess Swank. Great to see everybody. So I'm at Box, which is Content Cloud. So all the data that you have out there, we help you manage it in a secure way. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do, very much a SaaS company. So a little bit different than a Hungry Root, but very similar to, Joey.

Joey Lee: Hey, Joey Lee, head of talent acquisition at Panda, a restaurant group. Been with Panda for about five weeks now. It's for like five years. Yeah, I'm pretty sure you guys all know about Panda with 30,000, employees deep. We're global now. And our focus to be the world leader in people development, that's one of the main reasons why I actually joined. So I'm super stoked, excited to be here.

Chad: Excited until you start this. Here we go. Here we go. Okay. Jessica, first one for you. We've been hearing a lot about this whole AI thing. Quick question. Bullshit or not.

Jessica Swank: Definitely Not.

Chad: Or for HR? For, talent acquisition in HR. Bullshit or not.

Jessica Swank: Definitely, or not. So I would say AI is here. It is the wave. It is gonna change so much of what we do, not only within businesses, but I think especially within our people, within our communities. Everything from how we hire to how we think about learning to how we think about, you know, assessing and understanding, everything from benefits and first line, how we deal with it. So I think it's gonna be a game changer and I could not be more excited.

Chad: Are you using it? That's the question.

Jessica Swank: Are. We are using it in so many different ways. So one, so Box, a short plug, we have our own Box AI that we actually just went out to market. And so all of the data that we have within Box, we actually then can go and query. So it's safe, it's secure. So we look at it from recruiting. So we're using it in our job descriptions. We actually are, we're in our middle of our performance management cycle and we are using it actually in writing reviews. And we did even training for our managers on how to use it in a safe way. Now, it's not gonna do it end to end, but we can really think about where and how do we best leverage it. So I think end to end, we're using it. And we're just at the start.

Chad: Joey, it's gotta be different at Panda.

Joey Lee: Oh gosh. AI.

Chad: Are you using it?

Joey Lee: Yes, absolutely.

Chad: At the Panda AI.

Joey Lee: Yeah. We have a virtual, a panda that walks around. No. But, in terms of AI itself, I mean, it's a game changer. And AI's been here forever. You think about Siris, you think about Alexa, you think about when you jump into your car and it knows your routes every morning at 5:00 AM. It's crazy. In terms of how Panda is currently using it, when I joined Panda about five weeks ago, they did not have, a recruiting process. So basically I leveraged AI to generate a recruiting playbook, interview guides, pretty much a recruiting workflow within two weeks. So it has expedited our process. I understand, I totally understand how AI is. It's not gonna take over the world. It's just there to support you, be your guide. Plus I actually leverage, AI at home with my 11-year-old daughter. So she comes up to me and she asks help to help with her math homework, right? So I tell her, Hey, you know what? Go on ChatGPT, put that information in. If they can't answer it, come back to me. And 100% of the time she gets the answer. So it's been crazy.

Joel: By the way, the Panda Express recommendation engine always gets my order just right. Always just right.

Chad: Always. Carolyn?

Carolyn Frey: Yes. Oh, AI.

Chad: Welcome to the show.

Carolyn Frey: I know, I'm super giggly right now. Well, we're a company built on AI, so yes. AI, not bullshit. And, I'd say I run custom.

Chad: So you're a company built on AI. Explain that first.

Carolyn Frey: Okay. Which part?

Chad: A Company that's built on AI.

Carolyn Frey: Okay. Well, our algorithm is, well, it incorporates machine learning in something called Operations research, which has like hard and soft constraints. A hard constraint would be like, I'm allergic to garlic, or I'm allergic to onions, or I am, I don't eat dairy where a soft constraint is like, I don't like tomatoes. So that's kind of one component that's been implemented and now we're putting in machine learning so that it's pretty predictive. So it's like, Hey, Chad and Cheese, you love these four ginger shots on every four weeks. We're gonna pre-fill your grocery cart with that.

Chad: Every four weeks. Okay.

Carolyn Frey: Or whatever your preferences are.

Chad: Okay. So beyond.

Carolyn Frey: Or your in and out order.

Joel: I Love a good ginger shot, Chad I Love a good ginger order.

Chad: Where's Tim Sackett? Everybody calls him a ginger shot. So that was good, right? That was good. That was good. So talk about the talent acquisition side of the house. How are you using it there? Obviously your, business is built on it. So how, are you using it there?

Carolyn Frey: I mean, from the beginning we've used it for job descriptions, job postings, but we've implemented a solution, BrightHire just to do a plug for them here. That is amazing. So helpful. Do all of our interview notes. And has actually brought a lot of like fairness and equity to the interview process. So that's most specifically, it's more around like time efficiency. So, we have a higher quality interview process and save people time. And they're awesome.

Joel: Curious about AI on the other side of the equation. In other words, job seekers using AI to mass apply for jobs. Is that a concern for you guys? Are you seeing any evidence of that? More and more stories seem to be coming out about it.

Carolyn Frey: I mean, I think in general, I don't know if it's AI driven, but we're definitely seeing mass supply. You know, we have a, I'm looking at someone on my team. We have a payroll position open and the candidates, I mean we have like 1800 applications and half of them have no HR payroll experience.

Joel: That's fun.

Carolyn Frey: I think the mass supply is an issue. I'm not sure if it's AI or other.

Joel: Same with Box Panda.

Jessica Swank: Plus one for sure.

Chad: Yeah, it's the same thing.

Joel: Yeah. So we were talking before, today and the labor shortage is a big story, for everyone. And it was really intriguing to know that two of the three of you aren't having a lot of shortage issues. So I want you each to talk about that. And if you're not, why aren't you? And if you are, what is life like for you and how are you trying to solve that problem? Let's start with Jessica.

Jessica Swank: Alright. So job shortages. I would say we are not struggling with job shortage, or an applicant shortage. I think what we are grappling with, I think like many companies is finding the right person for the role. And I think what, you know, Carolyn was just mentioning for some of our jobs, we get thousands of applicants. So trying to grapple with and surf through them. And then you have other jobs, AI jobs where there is a particular shortage of a particular skillset. We also have a global organization. And so depending on where you are, what skill you have, it depends. So it's an and it's a yes and I would say so.

Chad: Is there a training aspect of that? So you'd have to back down requirements a little bit so that you can get people in the seats and then start training because obviously somebody in the seat's better than nobody in the seat and their uptime might be a little bit longer, but still you can work on getting there and hopefully keeping them.

Jessica Swank: I think it depends on the role. I think some roles you need more harder requirements. And yet other jobs, absolutely. We hire a lot on potential and we hire a lot on, are you a culture add? So can you bring other aspects to the role? And then how do we make sure if there are, you know, inevitable gaps or knowledge that you need to learn, then we work with you to make sure that you're both up.

Joel: Joey.

Joey Lee: Yeah. For us, in terms of Shortage.

Joel: You have a shortage, by the way.

Joey Lee: We don't have a Shortage. We have way too many applicants, but they're not qualified applicants. And what we did is we actually started doubling down on our employee value proposition. You know, really promoting our benefits. We also looked at our pay rate. So we're not the midpoint, we're above midpoint out there. We also tapped into different diversity organizations, looking at veterans, women back to work, all these different avenues. We actually went, we actually are going international as well. So looking at international talent. So casting a wider net for us is gonna truly help us, get more qualified candidates. And then our recruiters are actually using, the AI components to parse through all the resumes. 'cause we do get a lot of volume.

Joel: Carolyn, you had an interesting perspective in that Poland is a focus for you. Obviously the Ukraine issue.

Carolyn Frey: That was mine. Wrong person.

Joel: Oh, was that Jessica?

Chad: That was Jessica.

Carolyn Frey: But That's okay. I can talk about our lack of talent shortage.

Joel: You're not the only one that's sleep deprived. Sorry Jesse, you were talking about the Poland-Ukraine talent pool.

Jessica Swank: Yeah, well I was just saying how, you know, so we have a very large engineering site in Poland. And so actually, you think about, you know, immigration issues. It's not only here in the US but it's also globally. And so where we think about diversity here in the US it looks different around the world. And so we're having to really think about where are the talent markets, where do we make sure that we need to do it, you know, kind of from an immigration following regulations. 'cause again, every country has their own regulations and yet how do we also think about diversity and diverse pools a little bit differently?

Joel: Good segue. Diversity, equity and inclusion. How are you guys dealing with those challenges? Have you figured out your beer yet?

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Yeah. Okay.

Chad: I think I'm good.

Joel: Start with Joey. Diversity equity inclusion at Panda.

Joey Lee: So, I think we're not, so I've been in a previous organization where DE&I was at top of the house. I think with Panda it's all about belonging, inclusive, they're starting to roll out DE&I training. So in terms of our focus is gonna be belonging and inclusive.

Chad: So we've seen in the media, there's a lot of retraction of DEI initiatives. Is that something that you are seeing not just from yourself but also from your industry?

Jessica Swank: So I wanna be very respectful in this conversation 'cause I think it's a very nuanced conversation. I think it is a movement and I think companies where we've seen them retract it is because they jumped on the fad of it was the in thing to do. And they, you know, did things for the bling and the press. And I think that companies where a sense of inclusion, a sense of diversity, a sense of belonging was important. I think that many companies, including Box, have just doubled down on that. Now again, we're thinking about it more from a global aspect as well. We are, as I mentioned earlier, as we have global organization, what does that look like globally? One of our values is bring your blank self to work. And so I think that sense of belonging, inclusion, it is integrated into the fabric of everything that we do.

Jessica Swank: So our commitment to diversity, inclusion, belonging has been steadfast and will remain. We don't get it all perfect, right? We have our challenges as well, but I think for a lot of organizations, not to minimize the, challenges that we're seeing from some updated regulations and some very, you know, prominent figures out there unfortunately who are having a loud voice. I think we all need to come and say, no, that actually is not what we're experiencing and how do we double down and really advocate for, I think the goodness that diversity and belonging is not only for every one of us, but for the bottom line of the business.

Chad: Carolyn?

Carolyn Frey: I mean, I agree. It's a nuanced conversation. I mean the way I think about it's like progress is not linear. So I don't know that I describe it as a fad, but obviously was a big topic and continues to be over the last couple of years. But I would still argue we've made a lot of progress. I think we tried a lot. Like we, the collective people company community tried a lot of things after, in particular after George Floyd's murder. And I think we learned a lot. And I would agree with Jessica. I mean, my personal point of view is what I learned, I had a pretty large DEIB team at my last company was that actually we need to embed it in all the work we do and in our people strategy. And that's just a far more effective and impactful approach. So I guess I disagree that it's not important or we've like lost progress. I think we have, I just think that this, the tactic and approach is different.

Chad: So we saw a lot of companies throw money at the problem. They did that in hiring CDOs chief diversity officers and then gave them no resources whatsoever. So from my standpoint, there were, the outcomes did not, were not there, So is this, is there going to be a rebirth in a more outcomes focused area, Joey?

Joel: Are You guys all seeing budgets increase, steady or decrease.

Joey Lee: In terms of who owns it. I think that's ownership, right? If you don't have a DEI team, who owns it If, so that's where if.

Chad: Does anybody Own it?

Joey Lee: Yeah. Does anybody own it? So I was just in a meeting last week and it was like playing hot potato and I just rolled up my hand. I was like, I wanna own it, right? But does it fall under TA? So who owns it? But at the end of the day, it starts at the top of the house. Everyone has to have skin in the game so it can be truly impactful. So right now I think it's that someone has to take ownership on it and it's that one team approach. Everyone has to be part of it.

Chad: Yeah. So good question. Are you guys seeing resources, more resources on the DEI side of the house or has it pretty much stayed plateaued.

Joel: Or cutting?

Carolyn Frey: I'd say the same.

Jessica Swank: Yeah. We've actually recently added, now it's one person, but every one person, but I also totally agree has to be embedded in the business. I think where, I saw peers and companies, they put one person and they said now they're gonna solve DEI for us and our organization. There's, everybody's set up to fail. I think it has to be embedded. It is embedded into our culture, it's embedded into our hiring, our development, our offboarding. It has to also be a business problem. And I think you have to have business leaders who are also held accountable. So I think again, it has to be a holistic approach. And again, we're gonna see ups and downs, but I think the trend, as Caroline was saying, I agree. I actually think the fact that the conversation that here we are still talking about it is a positive.

Carolyn Frey: The only thing I'd add, I love you Joey, but I disagree with your statement, which is sort of like I was a little bit.

Joel: No, I Love Joey.

Joel: Yeah, I love you. I love Panda Express. And I support you. My daughter loves it. No, it's sort of like asking like who owns culture like that, question, I don't know, just like, makes me really mad. We all own culture. I think to Jesse's point, it is in the ethos. So I think...

Chad: But somebody has to own it, own it though, right? It has to be under somebody for it to be, for there to be accountability.

Carolyn Frey: I mean then maybe it's sort of like the CEO and executive team, but I don't think that, it would be the equivalent of saying like, the chief people officer owns culture. It's like, no, we enable culture. We're a big culture driver, but you know, we don't own culture. Culture is like a collection of a lot of different decisions at, you know, and data points and strategies across lots of different things is not just kind of from the people function.

Joel: I wanna jump on the culture thing there for a second. And employment branding obviously is a big topic and you are all very different from a brand perspective. You know, granola esque, food service, high tech, you know, fast food. And Jessica, you have a really quirky CEO that I think plays into the employment brand as well. Just curious, we can start with, Carolyn, how does employment, how do you guys approach employment brand? It sounds like it's holistic at your company and that transcends into, recruiting. How do you put that message out? What's been most effective? Talk about that.

Carolyn Frey: Okay. What's cool to work for a consumer brand and hopefully you all try it or have tried it is that we think about the consumer brand and the employer brand, like pretty closely linked. But it also is, I mean, the way... We're in sort of a in a grateful place Hungry, is performing really well. We have a very cool product. We have a very cool mission and story to tell. And our results are amazing and we've been profitable for a couple of years and the core business just kicks ass. So I feel like our employer brand, it sells itself because, especially sort of in this marketplace where there's so many companies restructuring not profitable, startups not making it we've been able to tell that story really well and that's kinda why we don't have a talent shortage. We've been really, really lucky.

Joel: Joey Employment brand.

Carolyn Frey: Joey's still mad.

Joey Lee: Yeah, I'm... No, I'm super positive.

Chad: Get Joey another beer.

Joey Lee: Yeah. In terms of our brand it's... So our CEO it's husband and wife they really believe in putting people first. Throughout Covid, they have not laid off anybody. So they actually move individuals throughout the organizations, operators move them to different parts within different departments. They have a huge stake in developing people consistently. They're tough. I mean we call her the Tiger mom [laughter] and our CEO actually goes to the store. If there's trash on the floor, he will pick it up. So he actually leads by example and everyone does that. So everyone truly follows that same suit.

Joel: Aaron Levy, how do you control that guy and how does he impact employment, if at all?

Jessica Swank: Anybody who knows, Aaron knows there's no controlling, I joke, it's nudging him maybe in other directions and giving him very candid feedback. I do think though working for a founder, CEO, but also a co-founder, CFO, right? I joke that they're the brothers because they've known each other since middle school and they lead by example, right? You talked about that sense of they don't do anything that they don't ask others to do. And so that sense of we talk a lot about culture ads. The values have been seven years and going strong. The values, the culture, it's not just something that is talked about one and done. It is literally embedded into every single thing that we do. Even our performance management, we do the what? So delivering on the objectives, but the how we have four leader mindsets, business team, self and community. You have to meet a minimum threshold of both of those to be able to be successful. So again, it's not just talk, it is what do you do? I have a five and a half year old. It is all about kids learn what they live. I think people within organizations, you have to... Culture is about what we live day in and day out. It's those micro moments. It's the stories that are so important that I think actually really cultivate an incredible culture.

Chad: So we recently saw... It's like a story that continues to surface where Klarna got rid of 700 customer service individuals and they replaced it with AI, right? It seems to be in some cases we're looking toward the future. How does that actually impact culture? DEI? The entire, I mean, this is something that we've gotta think about holistically when we start using these different technologies. So whoever wants to go first, [laughter] chew on that one.

Joel: Is it hard to recruit when everyone thinks you're gonna lay everybody off in the near future?

Carolyn Frey: That was like 10 questions in one [laughter]

Chad: I'm good at those.

Carolyn Frey: Okay, so the Klarna thing...

Joel: Pick one.

Chad: I don't think you were asking the question, but I do agree that AI, as I mentioned, I lead customer care too. We'll take away customer care jobs. In our particular situation we work with a BPO, so we work with a huge team in Mexico that aren't our employees. So they probably will be the most impacted. And I think in some ways it actually enhances culture for us. I hate to say it because our customer care agents will focus on like very high level tickets. So we'll implement it sort of just for the basic, Hey, my box wasn't delivered, or Hey, there was this damaged product. Pretty basic stuff to answer. Get customer credits, respond kindly, but much more difficult things of I got something I'm allergic to or I had a food safety issue. So they'll just be spending time on just, I guess like higher level human judgment. Maybe someone else can go and I'll think about the other questions that were thrown at me. [laughter]

Jessica Swank: Well, I'll take on the actual, the layoff. So we've had a lot of internal debate, especially with during challenging times. Do we do something big and cut deeper to then reinvest in the areas of growth? And we have made a conscious decision not to. Now there's always gonna be org changes and some micro movements. However, in general, we have actually decided not to as an organization, even though the trend is there. And I think you see a lot of companies doing that because the safety, the psychological wellbeing, we think it's really important. And that fear-based culture. I ultimately don't think while you might get an improvement in short-term results, I don't think it's actually good for a healthy, long-term culture.

Chad: Yeah, Productivity goes down dramatically. Not to mention retention, right? Because they're automatically looking for the next gig 'cause they think they're not gonna have theirs for long. What do you think Joey?

Jessica Swank: And it impacts the team that are still there as well, right? Nobody feels good. So I think again, the tail of it, again, you can focus on the short term results, but it's a long tail. Really think carefully. Sorry Joey.

Joey Lee: Yeah. We don't do layoffs. So I don't foresee Klarna doing any type of layoffs. I think one of the biggest challenges is that once we... They move people throughout the different organizations, right? But they're not skilled. They may have certain competencies, certain abilities to do certain things. For example, you take a general manager, you move them into recruiting, they've never recruited before, they've done interviews. So how do we up level them how do we get them... Provide them tools and resource to get to where they need to truly go. And that's the challenge, right? And that's why I feel like AI is gonna truly help. Because when you think about it, when you ask a recruiter how much percentage of their time do they spend on the admin side, they would say 60, 70%. So you take some of those AI components, give them at least 70% of their time to spend time with customers, spend time with hiring managers, spend time to consult. That's where we truly need to get them to.

Carolyn Frey: Okay. I have a couple of thoughts. Well, on the layoffs, I mean, I think we're all people leaders or in the people space. I mean, it's really important to be very thoughtful around impact on DEIB. So we did a small restructure in January, not for cost reasons. And we transparently got a lot of heat from the company of where a lot of women were impacted. But we had to be very, very transparent around like the analysis we did. And we're a majority female company. And so as a result there are more females than males impacted. I was gonna say something else about culture, but I just lost my train of thought. Oh, I think what you said about jobs, I would guarantee if you asked anyone at Hungry they would not be fearing their job going away. And the reason is 'cause like we believe in very lean, scrappy teams.

Carolyn Frey: So as I mentioned, we're about 400 million in revenue. Just to give some context, the people team is five people. And so like you want the right balance of not so resource constrained that you can't do your best work. But you also wanna be able to prioritize the most important things and everyone is tied to the impact they can have. So actually post a small restructure, we did, we've seen like engagement survey scores go up. People are just happier because they're actually more connected to the results and they're not worried about their job.

Joel: Alright. Joey I'm not gonna let you off this easy. You can't just say we don't do layoffs. Without some pushback.

Chad: He did. He said.

Joel: And in your... He did. And your industry more than most, is it, I wouldn't say risk, but more impacted by AI and automation than most. You see robots flipping burgers, you see robots cooking food, you see drive-throughs that are AI voice.

Joey Lee: Servers.

Joel: You see... My local McDonald's, it's a kiosk. I haven't talked to a cashier for I don't know how long.

Chad: He knows fast food.

Joel: So help me understand in that environment where all your competition is automating that you guys won't, or what's your secret sauce that you don't have to?

Joey Lee: No, we actually started some automation. So being in QSRs, the turnover there is about 70%. That's 70% is labor intensive, very hands-on. So we have robotics in terms of chopping vegetables, flipping the walk. The walk is heavy you do it eight, 10 hours a day it's super challenging. We're gonna double down on the customer service aspect, right? Providing the customer service aspect. We're applying to open 90 stores by next year. We're opening 180 stores.

Chad: How many?

Joey Lee: 180 stores.

Chad: Wow.

Joel: Which will employ how many people?

Joey Lee: A lot [laughter]

Joel: Good for you. Good for you.

Chad: So let's go ahead and pivot into innovation. Three people on stage who get pitched a lot by vendors, many vendors in this room. But.

Joel: How many calls a week? I'm just curious. How many calls a week do you get from a vendor, Carolyn?

Carolyn Frey: Probably between like 50 to 75.

Joel: 50 to 70.

Chad: Woo.

Jessica Swank: Yeah. Calls, emails LinkedIn. A lot.

Joel: 50 to a 100? Oh, emails for sure. It'd be a lot more.

Chad: In the same range.

Joel: Wow.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: So if vendors are listing, that's what you're competing with. A hundred calls a week from your competition. So go ahead. Innovation.

Chad: Let's go high level. Indeed and LinkedIn pretty much own the market for the most part. They get a lot of cash out of all the vendors that are out there. They don't seem to be innovating much. They rename stuff, they put a different label, different lipstick on the pig and then they charge you more. What would you like to see out of vendors, whether it's them or even beyond those 75 plus that you get per week that actually means something to you?

Carolyn Frey: Okay. I don't know why I'm going for it. This is not a pain point for us. The only thing in the recruiting... I think, 'cause you were specifically talking about the recruiting space, so probably in my more my field's experience and kinda like high turnover environments, we push the envelope on innovation. So I don't actually know that I have an answer, but I'd like to see more like experience based. I mean, you're right, like they haven't pushed the envelope at all. I think candidates are still sort of using the same approaches but probably like more, I don't know, something creative experience based interviewing.

Chad: So question, do you use your database, your candidate database of candidates you've already paid for that have already possibly gone through interviews and those types of things? Do you use those as the first source of candidates to go through or do you just automatically post a job going to programmatic? What do you do first?

Carolyn Frey: Okay. We post a job. And then we filter applications through Greenhouse.

Chad: So you don't go back to database.

Carolyn Frey: But we do a lot of referrals are a big source of hire for us. About 50% of our hires are referrals. So we prioritize those. And we do do sourcing for our kind of harder to fill like more technical data engineer roles or kind of dev roles.

Jessica Swank: Yeah. One of the things we've done, so this past year we've spent a lot of time looking at our end-to-end tech stack and also then where the incumbents are, what our renewal dates are for each of those platforms where the kind of the upstarts are many of those in this room. And then we start having those conversations around where and how do we wanna innovate, where are the companies where we wanna make the bet, but also there's a cost to change. And then I would also say there's a fatigue of employees to having yet another system, yet another app. Where do I go to for this? Where do I go to for that? So I think the more companies that can integrate and have it be simple and make sure that it's talking and connecting with other vendors and/or other platforms, that is also, it's the push and the pull of always wanting innovation. But innovation within companies where we're already using are automatically gonna have a layback.

Joel: Will you even consider a solution that isn't integrated into your primary platforms?

Jessica Swank: Very few.

Joel: Very few.

Jessica Swank: Yes. If it is a spot solution that there's no other opportunity, but in general, I mean, I would say a number of the vendors where there's ongoing innovation within the platform and then you'll see, and what we're seeing a lot now is every vendor is trying to go broader. And so it's not only the new companies but it's the vendors pitching on, oh, but we can do this today, but we're gonna go and do X tomorrow. And understanding how all these pieces fit together is one of, I think our... As an industry and as people and communities, one of the biggest opportunities we have going forward.

Chad: Do you feel in some cases that's like vaporware, oh, we're gonna do that or we're gonna do that?

Jessica Swank: Oh yeah. And assessing what is vaporware and what is actually like oh no, that's coming. I promise you that's coming. Versus LinkedIn.

Chad: It's on the roadmap.

Jessica Swank: Is it on the roadmap? Can we actually deliver on it? Can we count on you to deliver on this? It's a tricky one, which also comes down to a lot of really digging into do you have the relationships? Do you know the chief product officer? Are you actually really understanding what the technology is and what it could be?

Joel: Salespeople have a tendency of overpromising, I don't know if you guys have heard that.

Chad: You mean salespeople.

Joel: Salespeople, yeah.

Chad: Product people. Not so much. If you can talk to product people generally you can get the right answer. Yeah.

Joel: And they hate salespeople for over promising.

Chad: Joey what do you think about that?

Joey Lee: Yeah, so we're building our tech stack right now and I love Jessica's point in terms of it has to integrate, right? I think the two job boards out there is Indeed and LinkedIn. And if you use LinkedIn the last three, four months, it's changed. Indeed Same thing. In order to get your jobs out there, you have to sponsor them. If not, it's gonna be buried. So I would love to see another vendor compete with them, come out with work and go back to how Indeed LinkedIn started. I mean, where they were just homegrown.

Carolyn Frey: I mean there's tons of vendors here and we're coming outreach, I wanna call it Remote bridge, which is one company I saw when I comment on like experience based interviewing and like pushing the envelope. And again, I mentioned it's not a huge problem for Hungryroot, but if I was back in kind of a high turnover, like harder to fill role, check them out. But it's like very cool. Like you enter Avatar land and imagine you can go and create a hiring fair for your frontline employees or for engineers who are really bought in and might be like a new and different way to interact with an interview. So that's kinda what I was talking about earlier with experience based, like wanting LinkedIn and the technology to really push the envelope. It's scary to try something new like that. But I think those breakthroughs are how we'll be able to address the broader talent shortage.

Chad: So talent acquisition wasn't really an issue. What about the talent management and that whole funnel to be able to focus on productivity and then also retention. So are you seeing advancements in innovation in that? I'm sorry.

Carolyn Frey: Yes. For sure I would say that area feels much more innovative I think because like performance is, yes, I will say there is innovation. A move to like simplicity to real time kinda ongoing feedback. Yes. Sorry, my brain is not working.

Chad: You're good. You're good. It's the beer. We'll blame the beer. It's fine, it's fine.

Joel: Remote work. [laughter] Ooh.

Carolyn Frey: Am I fired?

Joel: I don't know. I mean, Joey's answer might be interesting, but I'm sure like.

Chad: Corporate jobs.

Joel: Hybrid work, remote work solutions to help you manage a global work workforce. I think a lot of companies are struggling with, do we go hybrid, remote? Are you back in the office? How do you guys approach that question internally and how does it impact recruiting?

Chad: Start with Joey. Let's start with Joey 'cause I wanna hear this. You've got corporate jobs and then obviously you've got jobs where they can't be remote.

Joey Lee: Yeah. So we're required to come into the office twice a week, which is good. My first week there is funny, I was in the office, I was in back to back virtual calls, so I was like I did not leave the office one bit. So I went back to my leadership team, I was like I'm gonna move all my meetings on the days I currently work home. So I believe in that in-person, but if you're bogged down doing virtual meetings all day, it's pointless. There's no reason for that. There should be a mixture. I believe that. I like the people-people, the business interaction. Face-to-face with different executives. I enjoy that. The brainstorming element, the team building. But I do like the flexibility of the work from home. I mean, if I gotta take my daughter and pick up my kids from school, that's the beauty of it. And you just work your hours.

Chad: Now is that the department by department scenario or do you have like a corporate like.

Joey Lee: It's for the whole company for.

Chad: Okay. The entire company. Okay. What about you guys, Jess?

Jessica Swank: Yes, so we have kind of all types. So we have some roles that are in-office roles. We have some roles a lot of sales, some of the customer roles that are remote by role. And then we have a lot of people who are either remote by choice. The vast majority, about 60% of our Boxers are employees are kind of a mix of where they come into the office. And we want that. 'cause again, I'm a big believer of it. There is something different about when you can be in the office. When you can have that face-to-face in-person connection. What we're grappling with and still kind of working through is what does that exactly look like? To Joey's point we don't wanna say, Hey, come into the office and then sit on Zoom calls the entire time.

Jessica Swank: That is not in anybody's best interest. So what we've been really trying to think about, so Tuesdays and Thursdays are today are what we call our IRL days. But we try and then really say during those days, don't have your Zoom calls. If you're gonna have a one-on-one, make sure it's a one-on-one with somebody who's there. Clear some of your calendar to have time to go and have the conversations in the coffee bar, in the lunchroom, whatnot. So I think we have to be more intentional. I think it is actually harder in some ways to have kinda this messy middle. But I actually think the flexibility, this whole like work life integration, which I think is incredibly important, is something that as we think about this next generation of workplaces, we also put a lot of care into our workplaces. That they exemplify our culture, that we really create that community, that sense of, again, that belonging. So when you come into the office, it actually is a place that you ideally wanna be able to come.

Chad: Now being international, do you guys work with any EOR companies? Employment that employ of record platforms where you can go through them and they make it so much easier to actually hire remote people or even people on site? Do you use any of those types of organizations at all?

Jessica Swank: We have tried one with mixed success. And so we are not going to at this point continue down that path because again, I think it sounds really good in theory. Haven't quite worked out the wrinkles in my opinion.

Chad: So what was not successful about that? Did you have problems retaining, getting people in the door? What was the...

Joel: And feel free to name names [laughter]

Jessica Swank: I like being provocative. I like also being respectful. So I think what did not work, so our use case actually was during some M&A work that we did where we had employees that were part of an acquisition in countries where we were not legally set up to employ them. And so we used a vendor and again, it was just the promises that were made. And then what were delivered on in terms of the complexity in terms of they made some serious mistakes along the way. And so again, we kind of had to deal with then cleaning up their mess even though what they told us they could deliver and what they delivered there was a pretty big gap.

Carolyn Frey: So It's not a panacea.

Jessica Swank: Okay. This conversation makes me wanna poke my eyeballs out. We were talking at a group of CPOs last night, [laughter] about remote hybrid. So well I think Hungry is here to prove, first of all, I don't care where people work, so we're totally remote first. I do care about sort of meaningful interactions and meaningful connections and I think the coolest part about our company is while everyone else is just messing around with like are we in the office? Are we not in the office? What are the mandates? All this stuff we've just been crushing it culturally and also business results. So I think think we're a good use case to prove that, like you can do it. The other comment I'd make and sort of why it's a personal sort of like issue for me is like we've lost so many women caregivers in the workforce.

Carolyn Frey: And I'm a mom of two kids in an executive position and like I'm able to do it all because I work from home. Work from home is not necessarily my happy place. It's not like I need to be at moments like this or go to New York or be with a team or with my CPO community. But I just think the data supports that. Like this is having a tough impact on females in the workforce. So on a personal level it stinks, but we from a competitive advantage are just going for it. So in our employer brand, we're like we're remote first and we're attracting amazing talent because of it. 'cause it's actually so unique. So we like that every other company is back to the office or many are.

Joel: Well I think we're out of time and the bar is open real quickly. Give the audience a URL or a LinkedIn handle to where they can all connect with you. Starting with Carolyn.

Carolyn Frey: Like personally connect with me.

Joel: It's up to you. [laughter]

Chad: Or not.

Joel: Do you wanna put yourself out there that's on you.

Chad: [laughter]

Joel: Jess.

Jessica Swank: LinkedIn. I'm not social media so LinkedIn is the only way to catch me.

Joel: Joey.

Joey Lee: Same way. LinkedIn. You can find me on LinkedIn.

Joel: Let's hear it for the panel everybody give it up. Cheers everybody. Chad that is another one in the can we out.

Chad: We out.

Outro: Wow, look at you. You made it through an entire episode of the Chad and Cheese podcast. Or maybe you cheated and fast forwarded to the end. Either way. There is no doubt you wish you had that time back. Valuable time you could have used to buy a nutritious meal at Taco Bell. Enjoy a pour of your favorite whiskey. Or just watch big booty Latinas send bug fights on TikTok. No, you hung out with these two chuckleheads instead. Now go take a shower and wash off all the guilt, but save some soap because you'll be back like an awful train wreck. You can't look away. And like Chad's favorite Western, you can't quit them either. We out.


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