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Cultural Disconnect – Why Hiring Right Can End the Great Resignation: Interview with James Cooper-Jones, CEO of Simply.

the Great Resignation

Could retaining employees in the throes of the Great Resignation be as simple as a 10-minute fix? According to James Cooper-Jones, the CEO of new HR Tech company Simply, the alignment between a company’s culture and how those tenets permeate the hiring process are at the heart of the necessary solution and can lead to higher employee retention. James will be sharing more details with us in this interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us about yourself?

My name is James Cooper-Jones and I’m CEO and co-founder of Simply, an award winning HR technology company. 

I’m Australian, however, over my career I have worked for companies with operations around the world and managed teams in different senior roles. This has given me a perspective on what works and what doesn’t when developing a team, and I have applied this lens to developing HR Technology with the viewpoint of, ‘what would I have wanted as a business manager.’ 

What is Simply and what unique services do you provide?

Put simply, Simply helps find the right personality type for the right role, something we call values fit. 

From my experience as a business manager I learned some insights on what makes an effective team, both good and bad, and realized this had a lot more to do with finding the right personality type for a role.

Specifically, what I saw in the market were systems and recruitment processes that focused on assessing a candidate’s qualifications and experience. So there was a gap in the market. Speaking to other business managers, academics, and looking at other research, I found I wasn’t alone and had confirmation of my thinking.

Simply was created to fill this market gap.

What we found was that the proven methods to find the right personality for the right role were usually too expensive and time consuming for many employers. What Simply has done is adapted these proven methodologies into an easy to use software, essentially making them accessible and affordable to a significantly wider market. 

By digitizing the process, what took hours, sometimes days in the past, now can only take minutes, offering an important solution for the modern business manager. 

There have been talks about the Great Resignation, what is this all about, what are the causes and what are the implications?

Yes, there is no doubt a Great Resignation, as 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in February 2022; truly unprecedented  figures. 

It seems clear that the COVID pandemic has triggered, or accelerated, trends on how many employees view work. An increasing number of employees want to feel purpose or values fit with their employer. A change from perhaps a ‘live to work’ perspective to a ‘work to live’ perspective. 

Recent data suggests that this trend is likely to continue with 40% of the workforce (or 69% of Gen Z’ers) intending to quit in the next year due to a lack of values fit with their current employer. 

This lack of values fit can have a huge impact on business, not only as an increase in resignations, as we’re seeing in the Great Resignation, but with productivity. A lack of values fit often results in employees being less engaged at work. Even before the pandemic and the Great Resignation, research found that less engaged employees are 60% more likely to make a mistake. Taken together, a lack of values fit and resulting lack of engagement is estimated to cost American companies $550 billion per year in employee turnover and productivity losses, having an enormous economic impact. 

What are the most prevalent challenges employers are facing with retaining employees and what mitigating solutions do you offer?

What current trends are telling us is that many business managers will need to find people and find them faster than they probably have ever before. 

But not only do they need to find people fast, but they need to find the right people fast. People that are going to stay and add value to their business. 

Simply helps business managers find the right candidate fast.

On cultural disconnect and hiring right, where is the problem here and what is the way forward? 

What we’re seeing in the Great Resignation is a values misalignment, a cultural disconnect trend of sorts. 

Employees in large numbers are telling us they require that there be values and purpose fit with their work, and that they are disengaging with many current employment and recruitment processes. 

The Great Resignation is feeding a shortage of talent, compounding the control candidates have over the current recruitment process. 

I think that many managers are recognizing this. However, they are being torn in two directions – the need to find people fast and the need to have a values based approach to recruitment – a process that has traditionally taken a lot of time. 

And so there is a disconnect. 

The way forward is a technology that can provide values based recruitment efficiently and effectively, for both managers and candidates. 

Pointing out the need for values-based recruiting, how does Simply help employers identify and hire candidates who share and will integrate easily into their company culture?

Our investigations found that although managers recognize the need for a culture fit and many also recognize the benefit of a values based recruitment process, to implement such a process was time consuming and expensive. 

Equally, our investigations found that although candidates do want values fit and purpose fit with their employer, they are not willing to spend time on a drawn out values alignment process, passing on jobs if they felt the application process was too involved. 

Simply brings employers and candidates together by digitizing values based recruitment methodologies into an easy to use, easy to implement software. It generally takes an employer about 10 minutes to set up a role and a candidate minutes to apply. 

Could you comment on the evolution of values-based recruiting and how digital software solutions like Simply are what Amazon was to selling books online?

Our workplaces and almost all aspects of our lives are becoming increasingly digitized with HR Technology currently a $25 billion industry, predicted to grow at 9.2% per annum. This trend is driven both by a greater focus on productivity and efficiency from an employer perspective, and then candidate’s expectation – from a consumer mindset – that there is an app for everything we do. 

Within this environment there has been a recognition by employers that they need to increase employee engagement to boost retention and performance. Conversely, candidates have an increased expectation that their values or purpose align with their employer. It makes sense then that both business managers and candidates are turning to technology to provide this solution. 

So, whether Simply is what Amazon was to buying books I don’t know, but it seems clear to me that there is going to be an increasing demand for solutions like Simply. 

 What are you currently working on at Simply, any opportunities for partners and investors and what is next on your roadmap?

Growth for Simply has been rapid, much due to our partners and supporters around the world and the trends we discussed earlier.  

We recently opened our Seattle office and partnered with Greater Seattle Partners to begin our Western U.S. expansion. In the months to come, we look to further expand our footprint across the U.S. with a focus on the Great Lakes and the Southeast. 

Abroad, we are launching our U.K. expansion and continuing to broaden our presence in Australia and Asia. The HR tech industry is booming, and we look forward to continued success and growth.

Do you have more information to share with our readers today?

I would reiterate that current trends are telling us that many business managers will need to find people and find them faster than they probably have ever before. However, to be successful, they need to be the right people fast that will stay and add value to their business. 

To meet this demand, new solutions are needed, and that is what we have created with Simply. 

I recommend people follow our LinkedIn company page, as we share thought leadership pieces from our community across Australia/South East Asia, UK/EU and USA. 

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