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The HR Circus: Juggling Budgets, Boomers, and Blunders

Strap in for another episode of HR's most irreverent show where we dive headfirst into the HR abyss. The Chad & Cheese sit down with John Baldino, a man who’s been around the HR block longer than our interns have been alive, and dissect everything that's hilariously wrong (and sometimes right) in the world of human resources.

  • Fear Factor HR Edition: Why is HR so terrified of the C-suite? We'll explore the existential dread of asking for more budget and why HR prefers to live in the land of "No Money, Mo' Problems."

  • Tech Wreck Tech Deck: Listen as we ridicule the shiny new HR technologies that promise the moon but deliver a piece of cheese. John breaks down why these tools often end up as expensive digital paperweights.

  • The Boomerang Boomers: Why are retirees flooding back to the workforce? Is it for the love of the job or just because they can't afford Netflix on their pensions? We'll look at why the golden years are now being spent in cubicles rather than on cruises.

  • Leadership or Lack Thereof: Get ready for John's rant on why today's HR leaders might just be masquerading as competent professionals. Spoiler alert: It involves a lot of snark and some uncomfortable truths about leadership (or the absence of it).

Tune in for an episode that promises to be as enlightening as it is entertaining, with plenty of laughs, a few cringes, and maybe some existential questioning of your career choices. Don't forget to leave your sensibilities at the door—this ride isn’t for the faint of heart or the humorless in HR.


Podcast Intro: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash Sowash and Joel Cheeseman 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 Sowash and Cheese podcast.

Joel: Oh, yeah. What's up everybody, we are live at Transform.

Chad: It is bumping up in here.

Joel: This is Bugsy Siegel's favorite podcast aka The Chad Sowash and Cheese podcast I'm your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always, the David to my Copperfield, Chad Sowash is here and we welcome John Baldino to the show.

John Baldino: What's up, guys? What's up?

Joel: He's the president of Humareso.

John Baldino: Nice, nice.

Chad: Wait a minute. I thought he was tech support for Chad and Cheese.

John Baldino: Just on battery duty. That's it.

Joel: It doesn't pay very well. I think president of Humareso was a better gig for you.

John Baldino: Look at you. I'm gonna have you do voiceover work now.


Joel: I was gonna make a Bald Dino joke, but I won't now because of this and that.

John Baldino: Oh, you don't know anything about my Dino.

Joel: Yeah. I got two bald guys ganging up on me. That's not nice.

John Baldino: He wishes he did, though. He wishes he did.

Joel: That's an Oreo I don't wanna be any part of. John, a lot of our listeners don't know you. Give them the quick Twitter bio and a little bit about the company before we get into it.

John Baldino: And let's start with an insult. A lot don't know about me. That's really nice, right?

Chad: Where we like to start things. We have set expectations.

Joel: There are three billion people in the world, John, how many know you?

John Baldino: I've only been doing this work for 30 plus years. I've been around a minute.

Joel: That's a flex. I've been in this industry.


John Baldino: That's a total flex, total flex. Listen, we're here at Transform. I keep walking around and there's these 19-year-olds that are selling product. I'm like, what are you doing?

Joel: There are no 19-year-olds. This is not the beverage and food industry.

John Baldino: Oh, I'm sorry. First of all, don't knock beverage and food. It pays the bills.

Joel: Oh, I don't knock beverage and food. I'm just saying that's where the 19-year-olds are.


John Baldino: Anyway, John Baldino. Like I said, been around a long time in HR. Currently, it's been 12 years actually for Humareso at this point, which is crazy to me. And we're just having a blast. Honestly, we're doing consulting work all over the country, international as well. Have great people working with me and for me at Humareso.

Joel: What would a company come to you for?

John Baldino: They're coming to us for everything from tactical to transformative work. So technology related, org design, but all the way to compliance, handbooks, administration.

Joel: I think you're saying you're a good guy to interview.

John Baldino: We are.

Joel: That's what you're saying.

Chad: That's what I'm hearing, that's what I'm hearing.

John Baldino: Yeah yeah yeah. Lots of opinions That's why.

Chad: Thank God. Thank God.

Joel: So you are speaking at Transform, we're here in Vegas.

John Baldino: Yeah, I have a panel. Yep.

Joel: What's it about? What are you gonna rant about?

John Baldino: So I've got a few people joining me tomorrow on really selecting HR technology when you have no budget. So it's a good talk.

Joel: That'll be a lot of people.

John Baldino: A lot of people.

Joel: That'll be a big group.

John Baldino: Really though, the focus will be a lot of HR departments, one. How do you get things done with a limited budget?

Chad: Shouldn't that be prefaced with how to set your business case so that you can go get cash to actually buy technology? 'Cause a lot of these individuals, like you're saying, they don't have budget. That's total bullshit because none of these companies run without talent. Period. Right? Why are we not prefacing with, okay, here's your business case to go get cash from the C-suite? 'Cause if you don't, then guess what? Shit's gonna break.

John Baldino: Yeah. So first reason we don't is 'cause of fear.

Chad: Your fear or their fear?

John Baldino: Their fear. Well, as a practitioner, I think we have a lot of folks who are afraid to have these conversations.

Chad: Risk averse.

John Baldino: Oh my gosh, yeah.

Chad: Well, they should not be in leadership positions then.

Joel: Well, their argument will be, well, I've touched that hot stove before. And when I sit with my director of finance or CFO, they just give me a hard time. And so I don't wanna do that anymore. Okay. Well, then you're just giving up your power. That's doesn't sound the right role for you then if you have to give up your power. 'Cause to your point, there is money, there is budget to spend on these things.

Chad: Yes!

John Baldino: And one of the things that's happening as you both know right now is that some of these teams have been cut a bit, right? There's been riff. A team of five is down to four, a team of four is down to three, whatever, but you still have to get that work done. And so you can offset some of that cost with the headcount that you saved, even if it's a fraction of it to say, we're gonna apply it to this in a different way. It's not, it shouldn't be a net zero. It shouldn't be like, we laid somebody off for 80 grand. Now we have 80 grand. No, no, no. That work for 80 grand still has to get done. You may have cut 80 grand, but we're gonna spend 30 of it on a piece of technology that'll help. And so you saved 50. That's what you should use.

Chad: So I digress because we're talking about something entirely different today. We're going to have a different discussion about this. I'm telling you right now, because this is one of my biggest issues in our space, is we have HR leaders that are not fucking leaders in the first place, and that drives me nuts.

John Baldino: Yes. That sounds harsh, but it's true.

Chad: Sometimes the truth is harsh, right? But today we're gonna talk about something even more harsh, and that's the aged coming back.

Joel: The return.

John Baldino: The aged. [laughter]

Joel: The empire strikes back.

Chad: We have Methuselah coming back to take those jobs.

Joel: The blue hairs are coming back to the workforce.

Chad: Oh yes, yes.

John Baldino: Absolutely!

Joel: So say more. What are you gonna talk about in your presentation?

John Baldino: The estimates kinda run the gamut right now. On the low end, 2023 saw at the low end, 2 million 65 plus returning to the workforce. High end, we're seeing numbers 7 million. Somewhere in that range.

Chad: And those are the boomers.

John Baldino: 65 plus returning to the workforce. A couple of things to that. One, some are part-time. So it's not full-time. It's in a capacity. Some way, shape or form, they've returned to the workforce. And we're having companies wrestle with that part-timeness because we've got some companies that are stuck.

Chad: Yes.

John Baldino: You can only work for us 40 hours a week. No, that's actually not true. Right? And so they're wrestling with, so I can get this person with X amount of years of experience who's looking to be useful for 15 hours a week. Can I make that work? Yes. More companies are starting to say yes.

Joel: Are they returning because the retirement's not there? They're bored. There's just so much money because there's a labor shortage. Why are these folks that should be enjoying their twilight years back at work?

John Baldino: It's a great question. Part of it is the 401k crap out for some people, right? They're just not able to bank on as much.

Chad: Pensions went away and therefore we're in this situation. Yeah, I get it.

John Baldino: Yeah. And the, look, we see what the prices are for things. Right? You go to the grocery store and you were budgeting X two years ago when you retired, and now you're like, okay, I can't afford 10 bucks, $10 eggs. Something's gotta give.

Chad: Okay. So here's the problem, John. The boomers put us in this fucking situation in the first place.

John Baldino: Exactly.

Chad: And it's taken them so long to get out of the workforce as it is so that the Xers and millennials can actually get the leadership experience they need to run companies.

John Baldino: Yeah.

Chad: These guys are gonna fall off the face of the earth that, I mean, they're going to actually end up dying out of the workforce, right?

John Baldino: Yeah.

Chad: Then we're going to have organizations that are not prepared because they don't have the talent ready.

John Baldino: Yeah.

Chad: Because these assholes won't leave.

John Baldino: Well, first of all, we're still at about 79 years old for the average death age.


John Baldino: So somebody who's 66 might have a couple of years left on average. Right?

Chad: What kinda life is that though, right? Find a beach.

John Baldino: I mean, listen, some of them are working from the beach.

Joel: As we say this. 15 years from now, we'll be at this stupid podcast booth talking about [laughter] I'm still young. I can still do this shit. And we're gonna play back this episode.

Chad: We're gonna bring some youth into this though. We're going to make sure that the millennials and Zs...

Joel: We're gonna train the next leadership podcasters.

Chad: That's exactly right.

John Baldino: Well, and I think that, first of all, I think you're too kind, to be honest. I think you're too kind that they're in the way of these millennials becoming leaders.

Chad: How are they not?

Joel: He's too kind?

John Baldino: Yeah. Yeah. That was too...

Joel: Okay, so be meaner than him.

John Baldino: So what I would say is, I mean, this is a whole other episode. I have millennials that are too afraid to own anything. They're so risk adversed that they don't want the positions of leadership, quite frankly. Listen, and not that I would necessarily wanna be political but I would wanna be, it is absolute tell that we have two Methuselahs who are likely to be running for president because we can't get people who want to be leaders in their 40s and 50s. They don't want that responsibility. They should.

Chad: That's a big fucking responsibility though, John.

John Baldino: It is a huge one.

Chad: Being president.

John Baldino: Absolutely.

Chad: Right, you know?

John Baldino: I tell this story all the time and...

Joel: Hold on a second. Hold on a second.

John Baldino: Yeah, yeah.

Joel: Are you saying there aren't enough young people who want to be president?

John Baldino: Yes.

Joel: Because we had people under 70 in the primary.

John Baldino: Yes.

Joel: The better argument would be the people don't want younger people running things.

John Baldino: I won't argue that to say that's completely wrong, but I don't know that it's a clear cut that's the reason. I would say though, look, when I was young, they used to say the flakes rise to the top. So when you look in any organization, the people who wind up in leadership positions are the ones that just sort of dumbed their way into it.


Joel: Right. 90% is just showing up.

John Baldino: The other people were smart enough to get out of it and say, I'm not doing this.

Chad: Yeah. Well and those people are actually the ones who got out are actually making more money because every time they switch they got a 20% raise.

John Baldino: That's right.

Chad: Right?

John Baldino: Yep.

Chad: And so the flakes, yeah, they stayed in, they were the go-to individual at the organization, but they didn't really wanna move up.

John Baldino: Well, and I don't know that they know how to sell themselves as well.

Joel: Yeah.

John Baldino: Right? So this is connected to the older generation, 'cause when the older generation comes back and it's helpful, and I honestly, I don't know how the numbers are gonna shake out. My guess would be the largest percentage will be part-time, not full-time. And so I think that it's the wisdom in how do you use this older generation in coming back so that they're not in the way though, to your point.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: But they're mentoring and really helping people that are younger to say, this is how you have to...

Chad: They're advisors.

John Baldino: Yeah.

Chad: They're advisors.

John Baldino: This is how you have to work with the knowledge that you have as opposed to just going on your performance review and saying, I think I'm pretty good. Let me give myself all fives. What do you mean I'm meeting expectations? I'm now gonna boohoo and leave and see if I can be appreciated somewhere else.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: That's not leadership, that isn't teaching anyone how to be a leader when we allow that to happen at all.

Chad: Okay. So I'm gonna generalize. I'm very good at that.

John Baldino: Yep, yep, yep.

Chad: The boomer generation is not a giving generation. It's a me, me, me rugged individualism fuck off if you can't do it yourself. Right? So they're not great mentors.

John Baldino: So is this like a daddy issue thing for you?

Chad: Yes. Yes, it definitely is. It definitely is. Not only that, having mentors or "leaders" above me for my entire career who were boomers, it's been a daddy issue from company to company to company. Right?

John Baldino: Yeah.

Chad: So, I mean, again, this is more generalizing. This is my story. I guess you can say I'm trying to get it all out here on the Oprah show.


Chad: But that's been my experience, man. It's been like, hey, go do it yourself.

John Baldino: It's funny that you say that because what I would say statistically though is you do see more older generation softening. So you get to your 70s and you're like, I don't wanna lose my mind on things that I used to lose my mind on.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: My parents are a great example of that and I'm sure my mom will listen to this, which is gonna be awesome.


John Baldino: They were not kind people, my mom and dad. They loved me but they were not kind in that regard.

Chad: No, that's not how you parented.

John Baldino: And if you wronged them... That's right. And my mom still, like, if you wrong her, she's got the book from 1974. She's gone way back and is gonna tell you everything that went on, she's ready for it. My dad was tough.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: Very tough. But I will tell you, by the time the grandkids came along and his 60s, 70s hit, he was a different person than when he raised me. Right? He was a different person. And my kids had a hard time reconciling those stories of what once was with who they understood him to be now.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: So I liken that a bit to what's happening in the workforce. And I know it was, you know, a movie, but if you look at The Intern, if you remember De Niro being in that movie.


John Baldino: I guarantee you, when he was in his 30s, he was more the De Niro that we knew in that movie. But by the time he got to retirement...

Chad: He was the De Niro in Heat. Yeah.

John Baldino: Right. Then he got to Anne Hathaway and he's like, can I drive you somewhere? You know, like so much kinder, a lot more gentle, you know.

Chad: He had a puppy. Yeah.


John Baldino: Sleeping with the massage therapist.

Joel: So you also had the Irishman which computer generated him into a young man again.

John Baldino: Yes.

Joel: Kicking ass and taking names.

John Baldino: Yes.

Joel: So I want to get back to something you said earlier about maybe we don't need four, we'll have three, but automation and technology will fill in the gaps.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: So I wanna go back to this executive discussion because there's a startup by the guys that started Jibe, sold to iCIMS called Fora that is sort of a executive co-pilot.

John Baldino: Okay.

Joel: So using large language models, what kind of decision would an executive make? So my question is, we're now bringing back the elderly part-time.

John Baldino: Yep.

Joel: Is there gonna be a world where we don't need them to come back because we have AI to treat us like we have executives on staff, we don't have to hire real people? Or is that fool's gold?

John Baldino: No, I don't think it's fool's. Do I think it's 100%? No. I think, look, we're already seeing AI modeling working in different ways already within organizations.

Chad: Yeah. Yeah.

John Baldino: And so they're adopting it because in some ways they have to. And some of it is, look, I can have ChatGPT do a development model for me of a program in seven minutes, and I'm not buying three people overseas to do this anymore. Right?

Joel: Yeah.

John Baldino: That kind of stuff is already happening. Yeah.

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: So when you talk about that specific example though, I think that one of the things that's difficult for AI to get down in terms of what would their decision making be, there's still something about reading the room that I don't know that we've completely captured yet.

Joel: Nuanced.

John Baldino: Yes.

Chad: Well, and also model, so you've got the Jack Welch model, and do we have a model based off of that?

John Baldino: Right. Is that, and I don't know that you want that.

Chad: That model today doesn't quite work. Right?

John Baldino: Correct.

Chad: So how does it actually, again, you talk about nuance. Nuance and how do you train these models? I mean, that's the hardest part of it all.

John Baldino: I think culturally we have to look at this from how do we meet people where they are? But I can't develop AI modeling that's gonna meet people where they are and then keep them where they are. Some of this AI has to be able to take that person and move them forward.

Chad: Yes.

John Baldino: So they are gonna have to grow a set. They are gonna have to understand there's gonna be tough conversations. You're not gonna get everything you want. I love what Claude Silver yesterday shared from VaynerMedia in this session where it was supposed to be like, how do we reach out to Gen Z and make them make sure they know they're loved and cared for and clothed and fed and diapered and all that stuff. Right?

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Sounds familiar. Yeah.

John Baldino: How do we do this? And it was like, well, we have to be leaders and not bosses. That's crap. Because we have to be bosses sometimes. And who's defining these words?

Chad: Well, you have to do both. You have to do both. You have to lead and manage.

John Baldino: Yes.

Chad: Because managing something's entirely different than being a leader.

John Baldino: 100%, yes. We're getting, I'm getting applause already from the background, [laughter] but it is like...

Chad: I think that was for me. Thank you.

John Baldino: Yeah. Okay.


Joel: He timed it perfectly.

John Baldino: But the idea is like she was sharing, Claude again, that they allow people to do gigs, right? They have side gigs. We love for you to do that. Go ahead and be, have your creative outlet, but you can't do it for companies that would be competitive to your day job. And she talked about finding someone on her team who was doing work for a pharmaceutical company that wasn't one of their clients. And they had to go to this person and say, you are not allowed to do that, and your job is now in jeopardy. Now, is that a boss? Sure sounds like it to me.

Joel: Yep.


John Baldino: Sure sounds like it to me. Is she wrong? No. We gotta teach people how to deal with this stuff.

Chad: There are standard operating procedures. There's no question. There are guidelines. And again, you have to manage to those guidelines.

John Baldino: Yep.

Chad: But then you have to lead, as you're talking about before, to be able to allow to bring those people forward as opposed to just keeping them in a single level.

John Baldino: And that's what, coming back to your question, Joel, that's what I think AI will struggle for a little while to do. And why some of the influence from the older generation coming back and saying, what do you see when you see this? How do you network? We, my gosh, even older folks in the business development end of things, I want them to come back.

Joel: Yeah.

John Baldino: Because I'm watching business development people right here, right now, standing at a booth terrified to talk to anybody walking by. [laughter]

Joel: Yeah.

John Baldino: What are you doing?

Chad: That's never been... It's always been that way though, John.

John Baldino: But we have to teach people how to do it. Nobody's doing it.

Chad: I get it. But that is the company's job.

John Baldino: Well, right.

Chad: Right? And they still haven't fucking learned.

John Baldino: I know, I know.

Chad: It just, it drives me crazy. They sit behind the table. They don't come in front of the table. I mean, they're just the basics.

Chad: Yes.

John Baldino: Just the basics.

John Baldino: But you know, you got Uncle Vinny coming to this, you bring him for 15 hours. You're like, uncle Vinny, show him how it's done. Yo, hey, yo, come here. Let me show you.

Joel: Well, you know, we laugh about Jack Welch, but I guarantee you, if it hasn't been built yet,

John Baldino: Yeah.

Joel: Where you AI Jack's content through the years...

Chad: That's a good idea.

Joel: And say, what would Jack do? We're down 5%.

Joel: You better look into this right away.

Joel: And it will tell you what Jack would've done.

Chad: Oh yeah.

Joel: In that way. Like, that will be a thing if it isn't already.

Chad: And it would be fairly simple on every occasion it would get out the whip.

Joel: Fire everyone.

John Baldino: Fire everyone. Fire everyone.

Chad: Yeah. And if that works for an organization, great. But I mean, again, different organizations, different cultures.

Joel: So, you are in a really unique spot where you cover a lot of general issues with HR and recruiting and the whole process. Give us like a state of the industry. What are the pain points that people are talking about? What are they sort of wanting from the vendor space that they're not maybe getting? Just give us sort of an overview.

John Baldino: Yeah. I think that you're watching organizations struggle with managing talent and they're depending upon software to do it. And they're starting to realize it. And I liken it a bit to, you know, you have kids, you send them to school and we wind up having this expectation of what teachers should be doing, what schools should be doing. And we pass it off and we don't parent maybe as effectively because we expect the school to do some of this stuff. I know there are schools that are doing a good job. That's not my point. And I think HR folks are starting to realize, well, we bought this software, how come my people aren't upskilled? [laughter] How are they not upskilled? I bought this thing years ago.

Joel: Did you not get the magic wand that came with the subscription?

Chad: That's a much deeper discussion, but yes, I totally get it, yes. Every single company, we talk about this on the podcast almost every week, they buy tech and they expect the easy button to be right there.

John Baldino: That's right.

Chad: And the tech to take care of everything for them. Not to mention, they buy tech that's like six years in place. Then they come back to it later and say, well, it sucks. Well, you haven't done anything to it.

John Baldino: That's right. It's only as smart as the input.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: And I think that we are also seeing HR practitioners who are uncomfortable with tech, to be honest.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: And they're working with implementation teams on the software side, who, I'm not knocking them. They're lovely, whatever. But it never looks like the demo. And then they're pissed.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: And they're like, well this, I'm gonna change again. I'm gonna find another one. And it's like, no, the problem is nobody is owning this in your organization.

Joel: Yeah.

John Baldino: And someone has to own it. So we, you know, for, in terms of what we're seeing, we're doing a lot more of that, I would say over the last 18 months than we ever have before. We've always done it, but it's been asked for a lot more because it's a lot of lift to change or add systems. And it not to do what it is that it you bought it to do.

Joel: Yep.

Chad: Agreed. Agreed.

John Baldino: We also have HR practitioners that are not being taught how to HR. Which is hard for me to say because I've been in it so long.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: We are not doing a great job of teaching people how to do HR. They know how to make sure the forms are filled in. They know how to make sure Jimmy knows it's a life event. You're 26 and get ready to be screwed for the rest of your life.

Joel: All the automated stuff that's gonna go away.

Chad: That's the admin. Yeah. The routine.

John Baldino: I'm about to sit and have a nuanced conversation with a manager around how to have, you know, progressive talent management discussions.

Chad: Yeah.

John Baldino: They don't know how to do it.

Joel: That is John Baldino everybody, president at Humareso. John, for our listeners that want to connect with you or learn more, where would you send them?

John Baldino: You can go to Find me on LinkedIn, John Baldino HR. Either way.

Joel: I love it. We are here live at Transform. Chad, that's another one in the can. We out.

Chad: We out.

Podcast Outro: Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of shout outs of people you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Anyhoo, be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit Just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. It is so weird. We out.


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