I see a lot of pressure right now for the middle management. Because it's not easy to be in every battle, and also to maintain the team. And I think the challenge is to become more human, to be more human in business.Martin J. Beck
Business Unit Director at Catenon
Martin J. Beck has a Degree in Economics from the University of Potsdam (Germany) and a Master in HR Management. He has been working within HR since 2008, initially in the area of development and career coaching, then in the area of selection and headhunting.
Martin is specialized in the German, Spanish and European job market. Today Martin is BU Director at Catenon. He is native in German and is fluent in English, Spanish, Catalan and French. Martin lives between Barcelona and Nürnberg-München.
Martin is a people person, you can tell that right away when you start talking to him - which is why he has found his way into HR as the business unit director of Catenon, a multinational data-driven recruitment service.
He joined our host Sandra from their office in Barcelona, where he lives, to talk about a phenomenon that has affected businesses all over the world: the great attrition. He explains what great attrition means and what companies can do to keep their top talent.
Martin is very passionate about creating a sense of belonging and bringing back a more human approach to managing people, and hopefully we can pick his brain on this important topic some more in the future.
MIT Sloan Management Review: Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation
with Martin J. Beck, Business Unit Director at Catenon
Sandra Redlich 00:12
All right. Thanks for joining us today. Quick question that I ask everyone on this podcast just to start off, where are you joining us from today? It looks very sunny where you are.
Martin J. Beck 01:35
So hi, Sandra, first of all, many thanks for your invitation. Pleasure to be here with you today. Actually, I'm in Barcelona. And to my own surprise, I'm in the office. I wanted to work at home. In fact, I'm dressed for home. But I'm in the office today.
Sandra Redlich 01:52
Yeah. So in the office, that's the Catenon office. I hope I say that right?
Martin J. Beck 01:56
Yeah, office in Barcelona. Exactly. This is where I am at the moment. It's looking a bit sunny, more or less sunny.
Sandra Redlich 02:07
Yeah. That's beautiful. And just for our listeners, to explain, maybe in a few words, what it is that you do on a daily basis. You said you decided to go into the office today? I'm assuming you have a very free work policy at Catenon?
Martin J. Beck 02:23
Yeah, it's, in fact, I mean, we have a kind of hybrid model. But I think it's each team and also in my team, we are not forcing people to be in the office. People are free to work from anywhere. I have one of my team members, she will go Beirut, other members are working from Berlin at the moment. Three, in fact, are here at the moment in the office, two are working from home office. So it's very free.
Sandra Redlich 02:55
Martin J. Beck 02:56
Very flexible. Yeah.
Sandra Redlich 02:57
That sounds nice. Well, it's a good segway also into what I want to talk to you about today, which is that buzzword of great attrition. You can explain quickly, in a few words, maybe what that means. But I think having a hybrid model, and a flexible model, is probably a big, big thing people can do, companies can do, to work against great attrition. So that's what we want to focus on today. But let's first get everyone involved and get everyone up to speed. Can you maybe explain in a few words, what is great attrition, what does it mean?
Martin J. Beck 03:32
Yeah, of course, I mean, great attrition is something which is really a problem, I would say at the moment, it's a phenomenon. Really, a large number of employees are leaving companies. Companies are struggling to retain, the best companies. And I think that's a problem. In the US, it has been a big problem. But it's also a problem in Europe, of course. And the large number, increasing number of people are leaving their companies. And as I said, companies are struggling to retain and especially retain the good performance, the people they want to retain. And it's something really which happens across different sectors even.
Sandra Redlich 04:15
Yeah, and is it something that you can put your finger on and say, there's this reason why this is happening? I mean, we've all been through the last two years, they were pretty, pretty... different, let's just say. Can you say what the reasons are? Why are people, why are employees choosing to leave their positions?
Martin J. Beck 04:32
I think it's something very complex, but to explain it, I think we need to go back unfortunately, to COVID-19 or something. We can't even hear it anymore, right? You want to forget about this. But I think we need to step back to the pandemic and then to COVID-19, because actually, I think it was a quite obvious sale. Quite a, yeah, overwhelming situation for many people, for everybody, for many employees. And I think it's a bit in any crisis in the end that shatters existing norms, right. And I think the pandemic, pandemic has made people to rethink their careers. But not only rethinking their careers rethinking their work life balance their long, long term goals. And in the end, people in really big crisis, which shatters existing norms will tend to step back, and to analyze and to ask themselves some some deeper questions, questions like, Is this fulfilling for myself? Is this really what I would like to get out of my life and our professional life? And I think, here we are.
Sandra Redlich 05:52
Yeah, very true. And maybe also, that's why I was referring to your hybrid model and the flexibility of work, I think a lot of employees have started enjoying being more flexible with where they work from, and when to choose their working hours, we're all forced into home office. And I know at least some German companies, they have moved back into the office, and have maybe underestimated how much employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home or working from anywhere where they choose to work from. Do you think that's a reason as well?
Martin J. Beck 06:28
Yeah, I think so. It's an interesting thing, I think, because I think some companies tend to some quick fixes, some some kind of solution, some quick fixes. In the end, I think that's the right the right term to describe it. But But I think the problem behind is the sense of belonging. I think we'll leave companies not only because of this, but I think part of the problem is that there is a lack of sense of belonging. But you know what, it's really funny, because just five minutes, before we started this podcast, I was just putting a newspaper and I saw news, Elon Musk saying, like, even didn't have time to go through the article. And he wants to force people to be at least 40 hours a week in the office, and people are not in the hours in the office 40 hours a day, week, then he would assume that people, they would leave the company. So it's interesting.
Sandra Redlich 07:34
Sounds like he's trying to get rid of his employees.
Martin J. Beck 07:38
Maybe, I don't know, maybe he can do it. I think I couldn't do it in my team and I wouldn't like to do it. And it is because I think, coming back to where we started, because I think the pandemic has made many people ask themselves the question: Is this fulfilling for me? And also back to an important question, what are the real needs of people? What are they really? And I think people leave in the end, because they're working, and the employee experience is not fulfilling. Why? Because they think that their needs are not met. And in that sense, I think the important thing is to meet, of course, the needs of your employees, right? I think it's about that.
Sandra Redlich 08:23
How can you do that? First of all, you have to identify the needs of your employees, and then you have to find a way to implement that in your business. How can companies do that?
Martin J. Beck 08:36
I think that's a good question. And I think that it is what you said, that, first of all, you need to understand why people leave. And I think many companies and teams do fail from the very beginning, because you really need to truly try to understand why people leave. And I think that many companies jump precisely into quick fixes, financial perks maybe, or maybe establishing home office policy, trying to pull or get employees back to the office. And I think there is no simple solution anymore. And I think that each company has to challenge to find his own solution in that sense. I'm also unfortunately not able to give the solution for that problem. Because I think there are many individual and many different solutions. A message is from my point of view, at least, that there is no simple solution anymore.
Sandra Redlich 09:37
Yeah. Would the solution be to involve your HR departments a little bit more and talk to your employees a little bit more and to try to learn what they need and what they might need in the future? I guess it's a very, very complex thing, right? Because you kind of have to know what they want now and you have to meet their needs while they develop within your company, at the same time, which is very complex. So what's your, let's say, if we look at it in an example, and we have a smaller, maybe a startup company, with only a couple of people working in their team, let's say 10, 15 people, what can an employer do to make these 10 to 15 people happy? Or to find out what makes them happy in the first place?
Martin J. Beck 10:26
Good question. I think, of course, there are some ideas, some reflections we can share on this. Also, I think that there are no sample solutions. I think in general, it is important to strengthen the relational ties. That's something I think that people are much more into social and interpersonal connections than before. I think that people want to have meaningful interactions. And I think that people don't want to just, it cannot be just a transactional relationship anymore. And I mean, there are more things, which can be done. I think, of course, it is important in general for people to feel valued, right, in their organization, by the manager. Career paths is important. People want to progress, of course. But I think the starting point should be to ask really, what are the real needs? What are the real needs of the organization, of the team, of the business, but also together with their employees to see what their needs actually are?
Sandra Redlich 11:42
Is this something you would suggest doing as soon as possible? Like maybe even when you hire a new employee right away, set some boundaries and some expectations?
Martin J. Beck 11:53
In fact, we do this. Because I always steer my team to ask people in a deeper sense, what motivates you? Because I mean, you head hunt, right? So we approach people directly. And these people, they are happy in that job. So I even say to these people, you don't need to change. So why should you change in that sense, I think it's important to find out what in a deeper sense, motivates people. And maybe what concerns people, worries people and motivates or what people are longing for. And even in a deeper sense, and I think that's important, because I think human aspects are much more important than before. More important, so it's about being human, in fact.
Sandra Redlich 12:43
So at the end of the day, it's, I guess, obviously, compensation and benefits and bonuses, and all these nice things are still very important and still part of it, but in your experience, the interpersonal aspect, a team spirit, having an environment that you want to work in, has gained more traction over the last two years. Is that fair to say?
Martin J. Beck 13:06
Yes. I think that team building of course is very important, strengthened relational ties, the sense of belonging is something... a topic itself. Yeah, create a sense of belonging. Very important, not just focusing on a transactional relationship. I think it's important to create a true career paths. People want to progress, having developing opportunities, make them feel valued, but I think it's also together with the employees decide and then have a look together. Let's say what the real needs are, and what does it mean for someone? Right, having development opportunity? So I think it requires also for leaders and for the middle management, but for the team leaders in general, it requires them to develop a much deeper empathy than before. And in that sense, I don't think that HR can fix that. Because you can even have a chief happiness officer, right, or manager, but what can a good feel managerm do if the boss is not valuing his team, is not the listening to the needs of his team, he will definitely or she will definitely lose the team. So I think that, of course, HR can help but I think it's a cultural thing, too.
Martin J. Beck 14:45
I think you say that in one of the previous podcasts. But it's more about being human. It's more human and more human and resources, right. People and culture. I think even that it's not enough, I think the situation right now forces the team leaders, the middle managers and the managers, to do that job. And then that's not so easy. Because the speaking about the needs, you speaking about what people want. And I think in the end, it's about to empower people, right, to really empower people and empower people to find their paths, empower people to find their way.
Sandra Redlich 14:46
Yeah, there's no bulk solution for that. It's a very individual and a highly personal thing to achieve. Very complex, as we said, and I think I like the idea of thinking of it as like a cultural change that needs to happen within proper leadership. And as you said, if the CEO doesn't really align with it, it's going to be really difficult to break it down to mid management and everyone else as well. So as we said before, is it something you should take on board when you do your vetting process? So when you start hiring, are you using a service to hire people that you make sure that they understand the culture within your company and to set the right expectations and ask the questions: What is important to you? What makes you feel valued? So kind of learn more about the candidate, more personal information? Is that something you could do?
Martin J. Beck 16:30
Yeah, definitely. I would say so. I think it is really important to understand the needs of the team, the company, but really to understand the needs the short, mid and long term goals of the candidates. And I think that's very important.
Sandra Redlich 16:51
So what's next then? I always like - because the podcast is called the state of work - and I always like to ask the people we talk to, the professionals, the actual talent, you know, about these specific topics. Where do you see the future state of work? What is next in your opinion?
Martin J. Beck 17:10
What is next? Honestly, I don't know. I think it's an incredible time right now. Change has happened. So much change has happened in so little time. I see a lot of pressure right now for the middle management. Because it's not easy to be in every battle, and also to maintain the team. And I think the challenge is to become more human to be more human in business. I think that's the big challenge. And there's a lot to be done still, I would say.
Sandra Redlich 17:53
I like that thought, though. The challenge is to become more human again. I think if something positive has come out over the last two years, then at least that. I like that idea.
Martin J. Beck 18:05
Sandra Redlich 18:07
All right. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat with us, I can definitely see a few topics in the future that we would need your expertise on as well, when we talked about figuring out the culture or the relationships, building relationships within teams and within companies. I think that's a really interesting topic that we probably should be focusing on a little bit in the future as well. So who knows? Maybe we'll see each other for round two soon.
Martin J. Beck 18:35
Thanks a lot Sandra, it's been a pleasure to speak to you, to be in this podcast. And yeah, whenever you want.
Sandra Redlich 18:44
Perfect until next time. The state of work is a podcast by Lana, and is available wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us at Instagram or Twitter by searching for the state of work. For more information about today's topic and links to further reading. Check out our show firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for listening, and until next time, on the state of work
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