Episode 86.5 – Green Apple Slice


HR’s Vital Role in How Employees Spend Their Time, Talent, and Energy


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Harvard Business Review article, “HR’s Vital Role in How Employees Spend Their Time, Talent, and Energy” by Eric Garton.


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    John: Good morning and happy Monday. This is John Garrett coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I’m here with my good friend, co-host, all around superstar, wonder woman, Rachel Fisch.

    Rachel: Okay, that was the best intro ever. Can you just say that every week?

    John: Yes, I will. I will definitely go with that every week.

    Rachel: Thanks.

    John: But I found an article online that I knew you would enjoy, because it had big words, and I don’t know what they mean. So that’s why I send it to you, so you could you explain it to me, really, but it was in the Harvard Business Review. An article by Eric Garton. It was “HR’s Vital Role in How Employees Spend Their Time, Talent, and Energy”, and I was surprised that HR had a role in that.

    Rachel: Yes, and every time we read an article and we discuss some of the stuff, employee engagement does have a lot to do with HR. I’m just hearing my sister in my head who is an HR professional, and it’s like “Better watch they say.”

    John: And it’s not just for HR people. I think it applies to everyone even more. There’s three factors, and more importantly that everyone thinks that the biggest, scarcest resource out there is money. So, if your firm had more money, then things would be better, but it’s actually human capital.

    It’s human capital, and what makes it about human capital is time, talent, and energy. It’s those three factors, and if I were to ask myself before I read the article which three of those should be the biggest focus, I would think talent. Talent’s where it’s at.

    Rachel: Well, because that’s what you kind of get. We’ve talked about the money that people put into attracting talent, retaining talent. Right. All of those things are really driven by the talent themselves, so that’s the scale of your staff. As we read, and there’s these other things, and it’s not just the time – the hours that the employee has put into jobs, but how that time is spent. We’ve talked about the employees to put in the most number of hours doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the most productive.

    What is the difference between high-performing firms and low-performing firms if talent is equal? Which we actually figured out. I don’t know if you want to mention that, but across the board, whether you’ve got a high-performing team or a low-performing team or size or whatever, the percentage of great talent is actually pretty equal.

    Then let’s look into how it is that they spend their time. Somehow, these higher-productivity firms have figured out a way to waste less time. Whether that’s you’re working less hours and being more productive within those hours or figuring out a way to not have meetings about meetings about meetings where you leave it and say, “Wow, that was a complete waste of my time”, but how can we communicate better? How can we make decisions better? All of those things that are often driven by time? How many hours of your day is waiting for other people to make decisions or sitting in a meeting to discuss something or somebody just needing to make a call? I thought that was pretty interesting, all of the different opportunities there are to not waste time.

    John: Yeah. I love the phrase organizational drag. That’s really what it is. You just think that drag race car that’s flying down the drag strip at hundreds of miles an hour, whatever, and then it shoots out – that parachute comes out and just slows it down.

    Rachel: Slows it right down.

    John: That’s exactly what that is. It’s that parachute in the back. In all of this, it’s not just a little differentiator. It’s huge. In the study that they did – the Economist Intelligence Unit – I can’t even say this right – the companies that were in the top 25% were 40% more productive than the other 75% combined.

    Rachel: Crazy.

    John: The thing that I thought was really surprising is that the percentage of top-tier talent that are at companies or firms is pretty level. That’s what’s really amazing to me is that. Really, then it comes down to leadership. It’s something that my guest Vinh Giang talked about when he was on the Green Apple Podcast. He does a lot of magic, and he was saying “The best technical magician lives in his parent’s basement in France” or something, who knows, but you know, there’s a lot more to it than just the talent. I thought that was really great. If you want to check out his interview, it’s a really good one.

    But then the last one was energy. This was the most important one out of the three. I love how he goes into this and says that if people that are trying to shoot for engaged employees are aiming too low – and he actually calls that – he says we should be going for inspired, which is not an always an easy thing, but they did find in their research that inspired employees were 50% more productive than engaged employees and 200% more productive than just satisfied employees. So that can make a huge difference.

    Rachel: Right, so if we’re talking about an engaged employee being the goal, an inspired employee is that much greater, and the great thing is that inspirational leadership – it can be learned, and it can be developed. A week or two ago, we were talking about training in education. This is one of those things that even if it’s not CPE-related, even if you’re not going to get a certificate, taking advantage of some training opportunities that instill inspiration and leadership in your staff and in your management is going to drive them even past that engaged employee part, which so far has kind of been the goal. Let’s look past that and aim higher.

    John: Right, and the thing that you can even do that’s super easy is if you’re a firm, find out what people’s hobbies and passions are, and then staff them on those clients that are involved in industries that do those hobbies and passions.

    Rachel: Absolutely.

    John: I’ve talked to some people that are – they do micro brewing, really into the beer industry, and so going to clients that are microbrews or in that field – they love it. The clients love it, because they actually know the words that they’re saying. It’s just those little things. Now you go from being and engaged employee to now you’re inspired employee.

    Rachel: And with very happy customers.

    John: Definitely, absolutely. Everybody wins. Speaking of winners, that’s us. We just finished. We did it, but it’s all good. Everyone can check out a link to the article at greenapplepodcast.com and subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and maybe take a minute to just leave a quick review. That’d be super cool. Thank you so much, Rachel.

    Rachel: You’re welcome, John. Have a great week.

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