“Nothing’s Sacred” Episode 5: Juniper Square’s Tommy Hansen

“Nothing’s Sacred” Episode 5: Juniper Square’s Tommy Hansen

On this episode of recruitAbility’s “Nothing’s Sacred” podcast, we are joined by Tommy Hansen, manager of business recruiting at Juniper Square.

Tommy HansenFounded in 2014, Juniper Square is transforming the private funds industry with easy-to-use software that streamlines fundraising, investment administration, and investor reporting.

We speak to Hansen about how acquiring and onboarding talent has changed in a remote environment, workplace trends and transformations that he’s seeing, and how the talent market/pool is different in Austin vs. the Bay Area.

Scroll below to listen to the podcast and to read the full transcript. You can also listen to the podcast on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Listen to past episodes here.

Nothing’s Sacred Podcast · Episode 5: Workplace transformation with Juniper Square’s Tommy Hansen

Nothing’s Sacred: Episode 5 Transcript

Nick Schenck: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the latest episode of the Nothing’s Sacred podcast by recruitAbility. Today, we have a special guest. We have Tommy Hansen who helps lead talent and recruiting at Juniper Square. Tommy, thanks a lot for joining us.

[00:00:16] Tommy Hansen: [00:00:16] Thank you for having me.

[00:00:17]Nick Schenck: [00:00:17] I’m going to let Nad explain how you and Tommy know each other and then we’ll get into, I think, the transformations that Tommy has seen in not only hiring and recruiting talent, but in COVID, what are candidates looking for now that’s different than pre-COVID? And how does Juniper Square approach employee development now versus pre-COVID, because a lot has changed in 2020, and we’re really interested in kind of diving into those details and I’m hearing some interesting stories.

[00:00:48]Nad Elias: [00:00:48] Yeah. Yeah. Thanks Nick for the intro and excited to have, uh, uh, Tommy on . Tommy, we actually know of each other, I think, uh, last year was the first, uh, I think Tommy was with a, scaling FinTech, uh, here in town. And, um, uh, you know, has a knack for joining startups as they’re hitting the peak of their growth and, and, and contributing quite a bit to that growth.

[00:01:15] So I wanted him on this podcast just as we work with companies that are scaling and, um, uh, you know, pre-COVID now post-COVID where it’s being done a bit differently. Um, certainly wanted Tommy’s insights to, uh, what he’s seen out there. And, uh, you know, Tommy, I think that’s, that’s probably a good lead into some of what brought you to where you are today.

[00:01:39] Uh, at Juniper Square and would love to talk about Juniper Square’s story and the growth and everything that you’re seeing there. I’m gonna let you take it away maybe with a quick intro on, you know, your background and then maybe talk more about the mission, vision, etc. of Juniper Square.

[00:01:58]Tommy Hansen: [00:01:58] Sounds wonderful. Well, thank you again for having me. I’m definitely excited to be here today. Um, yeah. Yeah. So a little bit about my background. Um, I actually started out in agency recruiting as well, doing accounting and finance for big Fortune 500 companies, uh, recruiting up to their CFO level, which gives me kind of my background in recruiting. Um, but also a lot of visibility to the different ways companies operate. Because I was working with, um, startups all the way up to those large Fortune 500 companies. Uh, so when I moved down to Austin, I knew I wanted to get into the startup space. Um, and FinTech just, um, blended really nicely with my finance and accounting, uh, recruiting experience.

[00:02:37] Um, so joined, uh, a fast growing FinTech company here in Austin, helped them go from series B to series C adding over a hundred headcount and kind of overseeing their non-technical recruiting. Um, and then from there, came over to Juniper Square earlier this year, actually in March. Yeah. So interesting time to, to join.

[00:02:57] But the company really was checking all the boxes that I was looking for. Um, so Juniper Square is essentially a modern investment software. We work with commercial real estate investment firms and we help them kind of streamline the way that they operate. Both in terms of fundraising, improving the timeliness and accuracy of their investment reporting and enabling real-time access to data that really helps them and their investment managers really kind of scale their business.

[00:03:25] Um, so it’s a really unique space to be in. We’re based out of the Bay Area. But have also had an office here in Austin for about two and a half years. Um, and we’re seeing tremendous growth, we’re post series C with just under 200 employees right now.

[00:03:40] Nad Elias: [00:03:40] Now do you see a lot of the growth, um, in Austin, Bay Area? Is there a dynamic that you’re seeing between the two markets?

[00:03:49]Tommy Hansen: [00:03:49] So that strategy has really depended on the team and the executive that they’ve rolled up to, especially initially in the beginning of the year. We were primarily hiring in the Bay Area with certain roles here in Austin, such as like customer success. But we’re starting to see that change, and we’re really kind of, um, hiring rapidly in both markets right now.

[00:04:12] Um, and then we’ve always had a, a decent portion of the company that’s been remote all the time, which in hindsight has helped us in our operating here in 2020. Uh, but yeah, uh, right now we’re hiring quite a bit in both markets.

[00:04:26]Nad Elias: [00:04:26] I’m a bit biased, but I love that you started your background in agency recruiting.

[00:04:32]Tommy Hansen: [00:04:32] I think it’s one of the best foundations you can get in recruiting.

[00:04:34]Nad Elias: [00:04:34] It’s like cutting your teeth in Hard Knocks, man. Um, uh, it’s, it’s great experience. So I love hearing that, um, this was sort of lead into some of the conversations we’d like to have, but tell me a bit about, uh, the interview process and the transition for you joining Juniper Square. You said that was an interesting time to join the company in the middle of, you know, all of this, all of COVID. How was that experience for you?

[00:04:59] Tommy Hansen: [00:04:59] Yeah, maybe I can kind of start with what my experience has been like and then kind of dive into how our process has evolved through all of this.

[00:05:06] Um, so it’s definitely, so I was referred in, um, so that gave me, um, kind of an ease of mind. Um, but you know, it was definitely really interesting and I, I had to make a, kind of a leap of faith to, hey, this company sounds great. Do I make this move during probably one of the scariest times to make a career pivot?

[00:05:24] And I’m definitely glad I did. It’s one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. And I feel incredibly fortunate to be here. Um, but it was interesting because I started the process prior to, um, onboarding and interviewing, going remotely. And so it was probably after I, I was going into panel interview, which is typically on-site.

[00:05:46] Um, and that I think was like a day or two before when Juniper Square changed to having everything remote to ensure safety for the office. And so I actually never got to go into the office or meet anyone in-person. And so my panel interview got switched to, um, over Zoom. Um, and then typically prior to COVID, all finalists would fly out to San Francisco and meet with the team in person.

[00:06:11] Um, so of course they had to ban that as well, uh, in order to keep everyone safe. So I didn’t get to do that as well. So it was all over Zoom. Um, But they did a really great job of allowing me to really still get to know the team and kind of build rapport, get a good sense of, of the culture. So by the time I got to the, um, offer stage, I felt very comfortable moving forward.

[00:06:33] Nick Schenck: [00:06:33] What do you think you lose the most when you can’t interview in person? And then by not being able to meet in person with a candidate, what do you feel like you’re missing out on as someone who evaluates talent?

[00:06:47] Tommy Hansen: [00:06:47] We had gone remote starting in March and we, we stick to kind of a four step process. So one is, um, connecting with the recruiter, kind of an intro. Ours is very conversational, really getting to know our business, our culture, our values, but also, you know, vetting out kind of the key things for the role.

[00:07:06] And then it typically goes to a peer interview or hiring manager interview depending on the team. And then we do a panel interview. Um, and sometimes part of that is also like a case study of our role play. And so our goal through that is to make sure that we’re allowing candidates to be able to still build rapport, be able to get to know different teams and people that they’re going to work with cross functionally.

[00:07:28] Um, and so I think that process helps, but I think what you lose when you have someone come to the office, like my old thing was to meet with them for about 10 minutes prior to their first day interview, give them a tour, kind of introduce them to some people really allow them to feel the energy in the office.

[00:07:45] I think there’s a sense of, of losing that in this remote interview, uh, structure. And so the best way to do that is just to work really closely with the candidates throughout the process, um, to kind of bring that energy, um, and tell them a little bit more about the company. I think you have to spend a little bit more time with them getting them comfortable, um, than you would before, because they could just naturally feel that energy as they’re walking through and kind of seeing people happy in their environment.

[00:08:14] Nad Elias: [00:08:14] And how about the onboarding? How’s that been?

[00:08:17] Tommy Hansen: [00:08:17] Great question and huge shout out to the Juniper Square team on this because they changed to remote onboarding pretty quickly and did a really good job.

[00:08:27] So I was actually part of the second cohort to go through this. I think we’ve now done maybe over 13 since the end of March. The other good part is that our co-founders are still very active and a lot of department leaders. And so what we do is we still have everyone goes through a cohort.

[00:08:44] Um, that way you kind of have a support system as you’re going through this. Cause for most people, this remote onboarding is the first time that they’ve ever onboarded remotely. So it’s natural to be a little bit nervous. So when you’re doing it alongside other people, I think that support system is really important.

[00:09:01] And then it’s all over Zoom. Um, and. It’s a mixture of like company onboarding. So further getting to know the company and the different teams and the leaders and our values and the way that we operate. And then also having a lot of one on one time with your team as well.

[00:09:16] Uh, and so Juniper Square probably had the best onboarding that I’ve ever had, uh, which I remember thinking back in March like, how is this possible? This is remote onboarding. They just quickly changed to this model, but yet it was the most thorough onboarding I’ve had, and they also did a really great job of allowing every person to go through onboarding to really become very knowledgeable in our products. I feel like a lot of software companies forget that.

[00:09:44] And especially hyper-growth where it’s like, we just need you to get in here and just start working. Right. They don’t take the time to invest and allowing you to really understand the software, because everyone should be able to do an elevator pitch and really sell it regardless of what role you’re in.

[00:09:58] And Juniper Square did a really great job of that.

[00:10:01] Nad Elias: [00:10:01] We’ve helped companies through the onboarding process since we went remote and then having done it ourselves here at recruitAbility, uh, we’ve certainly learned what to do and what not to do. And I love hearing stories of companies that have done it well. Uh, one of the things that we do, we do a core values check-in at the end of every day. That’s part of our process as a company, we all jump into the evening huddle and we do a core values check-in where we show an example of where we saw our core values demonstrated that day. So for somebody that just started, uh, it was big for them to see that part of our culture and then buy into it.

[00:10:41] Um, our challenges were around technology, right? Just being able to, I don’t know that we were able to adopt, uh, you know, adopt or adapt as quickly, um, to teaching the different technologies and resources that we have. So those are some challenges that we experienced just in the last quarter.

[00:11:03] We have been able to grow as a firm. We’ve been able to make the hires and, and add some people to the team, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. And I think I’m a bit old school when it comes to a lot of more traditional onboarding where you can have the one-on-ones and the meetups.

[00:11:17] And, um, it’s hard when you’re, when you’re virtual plus in the midst of all that, uh, we switched from Zoom to Teams. So, uh, that was a big transition too, that I can, that I can certainly talk about another time. We’re all Zoomed out at recruitAbility. We’re into Teams now. So we’re, we’re dealing with the struggles of Teams.

[00:11:36] Nick Schenck: [00:11:36] So what happens after, like you get fatigued from Microsoft Teams? What do you go to next?

[00:11:41] Nad Elias: [00:11:41] Man, I’ll tell you. Tommy, we had Slack, we had WhatsApp. We had Zoom.  We would meet on House Party in between, because if the Zoom, the main Zoom lines are being used, we jump into House Party.

[00:11:54] So finally, I was like, screw all that. We’re going into Teams. Um, uh, because we’re on Office 365 anyway. What’s cool is if you use Office, it’s just embedded in everything. Right. So for us, it was easy to, to use. We just never used it cause we were busy using everything else. So anyways. We’ll see. We’ll see how it works. I’ll report on that next podcast.

[00:12:16] Nick Schenck: [00:12:16] It sounds like you guys at Juniper have a very structured onboarding even remotely.

[00:12:21] How do you define success for that onboarding? Do you guys look at cohorts that went through the onboarding their like six-month or 12-month retention rate?

[00:12:31]Tommy Hansen: [00:12:31] So we’re very data driven. And, um, from a people standpoint, we do a lot of surveys.

[00:12:36] So after everyone kind of wraps up onboarding, um, they do take kind of a survey and we get, kind of their feedback from that, which we definitely have used to, to make changes. Um, additionally, as a member of the recruiting team, I always liked to meet with people at the end of their first week.

[00:12:54] Um, and then again, probably at the end of, depending on, um, kind of bandwidth either the second week or the third week, just to check in and from that, I take feedback as well. Um, and then we make those changes. So both through surveys and then through check-ins. Um, and then our hiring managers, uh, are very involved in onboarding recruiting.

[00:13:15] It’s like a true partnership. They really see the value in the stronger that that partnership is between the hiring manager and the talent team, the better, uh, the process is going to be, and the stronger candidate experience there will be. And so through their feedback too, and working really closely with the candidates through, um, the interview process, then through onboarding, um, they’re able to give us great feedback as well.

[00:13:39] Nick Schenck: [00:13:39] Just just pre-COVID, when you were looking at candidate pools, Bay Area versus Austin, particularly for technical roles, like what was the distinction?

[00:13:47] Tommy Hansen: [00:13:47] We also have a decent amount of employees that are remote in Chicago and along the East Coast as well. Now I wasn’t at Juniper Square prior, and I also want to, you know, be honest, I don’t do any technical recruiting and still I’m in non-technical primarily, um, more on the go-to-market side. Um, if I had to make any general differences, I think there’s really, really strong talent in both. And I think with more and more companies having a second hub here in Austin, you’re starting to see the talent here get even more competitive as well. I would say I still feel a sense that the Bay Area is a little bit more competitive in general, just because there’s more startups. So if you’re looking at trying to take someone from another series C or series D company, right, you’re going to have more to kind of pick from there. Um, but honestly I’ve been seeing really, really strong talent in both. And when kind of advising leadership on where to look, I always kind of advise, we should look at both.

[00:14:46]Nad Elias: [00:14:46] You know, it’s, they’re both really competitive markets right now not just, uh, you know, technical, but across all disciplines. Our experience working in the Bay Area is, you know, they know they have a better grasp of how competitive it is, right. You know, in Austin, you know, there’s still a perception that, you know, we can find the talent , and the talent that we think we might have in Austin doesn’t even compare to what you’ll see in the Bay Area.

[00:15:17]If we’re talking technical talent and data engineer or software developer, you know, all the universities that we have on the West Coast. Um, uh, compared to what we have here in Texas, and they’re able to keep that talent in the Bay Area in Southern California, and we’re having a harder time keeping it in Austin.

[00:15:36] Um, uh, when they’re taking these, you know, six-figure offers that Google, Facebook, and what have you in the Bay Area, even though we have those offices here, they’re just not that level of talent. The real talent is still out in the Bay Area. And, and, and they realize how competitive they have to be to get it.

[00:15:52] Um, I worked with a startup. Uh, it was about a 100-person startup in the Bay Area. And I was talking to the CEO. He pays a referral fee of $25,000 if you refer, um, a dev ops engineer and they stayed for a year. This is internal referral. So this is their coworkers. Cause he, and he told me, he goes, look Nad, I can pay your firm $40,000 to go find this person.

[00:16:20] Or I can pay somebody on my team, $25,000 to go find them. You don’t think for $25,000, they’re going to happy hours in San Francisco? They’re going to all the tech meetups and they’re asking around, they’re going to make the referral. And once that person starts, you don’t think they’re going to be watching all of their onboarding experience to make sure they stay a year?

[00:16:41] Because they get paid if that person stays a year.

[00:16:44] Nick Schenck: [00:16:44] That’s incredible.

[00:16:45] Nad Elias: [00:16:45] Yeah, it was the highest referral fee I’ve ever seen. He said, look, it’s totally worth it. If I get a dev ops guy that stays  a whole year, it’s worth the 25 K for what I’ve gotten, which is true. He could, he could pay my firm um, 40 K he gets a guarantee. We’ll go out and we’ll find the talent. Um, uh, or you can pay an internal referral. It’s smart thinking.

[00:17:04]Nick Schenck: [00:17:04] I’ve heard of companies getting rid of the employee referral program because they said employees should be doing this anyways to support the company.

[00:17:13] And I know that’s an, that’s like kind of an altruistic viewpoint. Um, it’s kind of like when CEO’s ask their salespeople: If we didn’t have a bonus, you’d work just as hard anyways, right? Yeah. Employees are gonna be like, of course they’re gonna say yes, but like having that carrot dangled does something.

[00:17:31] So it’s like human psychology.

[00:17:32] Nad Elias: [00:17:32] Totally. Totally. Tommy, do you have a, uh, uh, referral policy internally?

[00:17:37] Tommy Hansen: [00:17:37] We do. Yup. Yup. We have a referral program. We actually use a software called Drafted, um, for our referrals. Um, it was really interesting. They implemented it in the beginning of March, I want to say. And at that time, we had the second-highest in company history at Drafted of any other customers with the highest referral rates. I think by the time I joined well over a thousand in like the first month. It was crazy. Yeah. So we’ve made about 21% of our hires to date, um, in the last year, um, through a referral program.

[00:18:12] Um, and we found great success with it as well.

[00:18:15] Nick Schenck: [00:18:15] That’s great.

[00:18:16] Tommy Hansen: [00:18:16] Um, I would say more in the Bay Area. I’d say the Bay Area, they’re networkers. Like they are all about their career. And part of that is their network. Um, and so we get a lot of referrals from people in the Bay Area .

[00:18:29]Nad Elias: [00:18:29] No, they get it, and I’m not knocking Austin. We’re, we’re a really good town when it comes to networking. We really are. Um, I just, you know, it’s a whole ‘nother level there, right? I mean, that’s why. You know, back in the day, Mark Zuckerberg moved the company to the Bay Area. Right. He wanted access to the network and the only way he would get access to that network was to have an office there and be based there.

[00:18:48]That’s still true to this day in a lot of ways.

[00:18:50] Tommy Hansen: [00:18:50] And I think Austin does a good job as well. Um, but yeah, in the Bay Area, there’s a lot of people prior to COVID where they went to a couple networking events every single week. Um, and a lot of the agencies, um, do a lot of networking, happy hour-type events too.

[00:19:06] And they get a really big crowd of people. But part of it is probably people just waiting for traffic to die down or BART for their, you know, hour commute back home. Uh, so they might as well get a free drink out of it. But also people are just really, really passionate. And I would say within the Bay Area their career is top priority, where Austin people are very career-driven, really focused on like excelling and getting into top companies as well. But there’s kind of more of this sense of balance between work and home, too.

[00:19:40] Nad Elias: [00:19:40] Yeah.

[00:19:40]Nick Schenck: [00:19:40] One thing I’m really interested about is, you know, at, at Juniper for employees that worked in the Bay Area who maybe have relocated during COVID. Do y’all have to do some salary adjustments for them?

[00:19:55] And the reason I’m asking is cause when Facebook announced that they were going remote, Mark Zuckerberg said, you know, employees have until X date to let us know their new address because for tax purposes, we need to know, but we’re also going to do some comp adjustments so that somebody doesn’t continue to make a Bay Area salary, but live in Bozeman, Montana.

[00:20:18] You know what I mean? Um, how how’s Juniper handling that?

[00:20:23] Tommy Hansen: [00:20:23] Yeah. So at Juniper Square, we’ve had a lot of people, um, that have moved during this time. And, uh, actually our, our leadership has been phenomenal through COVID and they actually had a stipend to help people relocate during this time, um, to be in a more safe environment.

[00:20:39] And so we have a lot of people that are working remotely in different areas throughout the U.S. Since I’m not really on like the people team in terms of like outside of recruiting, I don’t have a lot of visibility to how many of those people are staying there long-term and what, what the impact is on, on their salary.

[00:20:57] So I can’t speak to Juniper Square specifically and what our strategy is around comp adjustments on that. Now industry-wise, I’ve, I’ve always heard that is very common. Because again, if someone’s moving out of the Bay Area, where you’re typically making, you know, 10%, 15%, 20% more than a place like even Austin, which is more expensive, but now suddenly you are going to Iowa, that’s not really fair, right?

[00:21:23] So most companies from my experience do a cost of living adjustment based on, on where they are. Now if a company does that correctly, they still use tools like Option Impact and Radford, and they still stick to their overall compensation strategy. So a lot of places will say, these are our levels. This is our range. And we pay based off of data within like the 75th percentile, let’s say. And they stick to that. But that 75th percentile is based on Iowa, not the Bay Area, which they had before.

[00:21:53]Nad Elias: [00:21:53] That’s what we’ve seen as well. And we’ve seen that with, um, you know, midsize even, uh, to the Fortune 500, when they’re relocating, um, they’re taking that salary adjustment, you know, based on, um, these industry averages and the different geo.

[00:22:13]It’s funny because somebody leaving the Bay area might think that they’re gonna leave the Bay Area with their salary. And like you said, go to Oklahoma City and, and live the same lifestyle. Um, Hey, I’ve got, I’ve got one and then I can give it a little bit of insight to this, uh, Tommy cause uh, you know, some of the perks that we have here at our company, but, uh, Yeah, high growth companies have been wooing candidates with these different office perks, right?

[00:22:39] Snacks, drinks, ping pong tables, etc. Um, I remember when Juniper Square was moving to Austin, um, uh, and securing space. I don’t know what it’s evolved into now, between what’s in Austin and what’s in the Bay Area, but, um, uh, now that you aren’t necessarily wooing candidates with office perks like that, um, what are you wooing candidates with?

[00:23:06]Tommy Hansen: [00:23:06] This question has multiple layers to it. So I’ll try to kind of break it down from what I’ve seen. Um, so, you know, first, prior to COVID, I started to see a shift in candidates and what are most important to them. I think people were starting to get to the point where they were really tired of the wooing, um, and the ping pong tables, or, you know, how much, you know, LaCroix you have in the fridge and how great your snacks are. Because a lot of times companies were having all that flashy things, right.

[00:23:37] But when you look at culture and retention, career development, values, sometime that lacked, because they are probably putting too much effort into these flashy things. So I started to see a shift in that prior to this, but I think now it’s even more present in my conversations that people no longer are caring about that.

[00:24:00] They’re caring more about stability, career growth, values, culture. And so the way that we really address that is really not just speaking to the values that our cofounders set really early on, like transparency. Um, example of that, after every board meeting, our CEO Alex shares the entire board deck with the entire company in an all-hands.

[00:24:24] So we know everything that’s going on. That level of trust and transparency has a ripple effect throughout the company, um, and really brings this amazing energy to the way that we operate. But with that, um, through COVID, um, our cofounders are paying for mental health therapy and coaching for all employees.

[00:24:42] They give a monthly stipend to everyone to be able to get things for at home. Some people well may use that for snacks or their favorite flavor of LaCroix. Others, I know, have bought plants with it because they were tired of being stuck inside. Um, they also, you know, sent more equipment for everyone so people could get more comfortable set-ups at home.

[00:25:03] Now those are the type of things that I think really are important, and candidates are starting to identify that as well. And that is coming up in more of the conversations that I’m having. How is your leadership supporting you through this? Um, and what are your core values? Versus, you know, who’s the best at ping pong and, you know, do you have chocolate covered almonds?

[00:25:27] Nad Elias: [00:25:27] Yeah. And it’s funny that we used to get asked those questions, right. I mean, you know, because you lived through it, you had some pretty sweet set-ups at some of the companies you’ve been at, Tommy. And getting asked those  questions, it’s kind of, uh, they’re much more substantive now when we’re seeing it.

[00:25:42]One of our core values is brutal transparency and uh, uh, you know, it’s interesting, you said that because when we surveyed our, uh, our team, um, that was the one value that resonated with them the most. Um, you know, our financials are an open book. Every decision that our leadership team makes, everybody in the company knows about.

[00:26:02] And, uh, and we take the same approach with our customers as well. Right. Regarding things such as price and, uh, and, and what have you, and, um, you know, hey, we just got Best Places To Work In Austin. But that was, that was one of the reasons, I mean, so it’s interesting you bring that up. Uh, Tommy, the brutal transparency as a core value was the one that resonated the most, um, with the team, uh, more than the rest of our core values.

[00:26:29]Nick Schenck: [00:26:29] Tommy, you were saying also that, you know, pre COVID, um, You know, maybe candidates were asking about how much equity they’re going to get, stock options.

[00:26:40] And it was me, me, me, and now, have you noticed during COVID that people are asking more about product-market-fit because they seek that stability because there’s so much volatility right now?

[00:26:52] Nad Elias: [00:26:52] A hundred percent. Yeah. Now stock options are still important. Right? You want that, that long-term incentive, if you’re going to be joining an early-stage startup, but in terms of other benefits, absolutely.

[00:27:04] Um, our conversations have shifted a lot from, you know, me-centric things like how quickly can I move up? You know, what’s my bonus gonna look like? Um, you know, et cetera, to what is your product market fit? What’s your gross retention rate? What’s your net promoter score? Really diving into the nitty gritty of our product and product market fit and customers.

[00:27:27] Tommy Hansen: [00:27:27] Also diving a lot into retention rate and things around that. So it’s been really, I think refreshing, because I think those are the key things that people often miss when going to startups is that they are wowed by the stock options package, right. Or the office set-up or, you know, the unlimited PTO.

[00:27:50] And they forget to really ask those important questions. Because a good company that is healthy is going to be able to address all those. And they’re going to be very transparent on that. And I myself had made that mistake in the past and learned from it. And now feel very proud to work for a company that excels in all those areas that I just listed off.

[00:28:08] Um, and it makes a world of difference, and candidates are picking up on that as well.

[00:28:13] Nick Schenck: [00:28:13] Yeah. Unlimited PTO is one of those perks that I think when it first started becoming popular, people were like, this is amazing. I’m going to take so much vacation, but like,  it’s a bad thing, because a lot of A players will never take that vacation unless it’s allotted to them and they end up burning out.

[00:28:30] So it’s one of those things that, um, having worked for a company before that had unlimited PTO, I don’t know. It’s not one of those perks that stands out to me.

[00:28:39]Tommy Hansen: [00:28:39] I’ve had it where it works really well at one company.

[00:28:41] And then I had it where, you know, you’re just taking no time off and kind of burning out. Juniper Square handles it really well. So we do have unlimited PTO. Now, if you look at data, those companies that have it, most employees end up taking less than 10 days a year, which is going to lead to that burnout.

[00:28:59] So Juniper Square actually has a minimum requirement of how many days you have to take off. And then we also have separate sick time. So that the time that you are taking off is truly to disconnect and be a staycation or travel, or do the things that are important to you outside of work. And so I think, you know, moving forward as companies are going to offer unlimited PTO, you should have a minimum on that.

[00:29:20] Ours is 14 days. Now, most people end up taking more than that, but at least we’re requiring that people take at least 15 days of PTO so that we’re not falling into that statistic where people are getting burnt out.

[00:29:31]Nad Elias: [00:29:31] We’ve had unlimited PTO since I started the company –  it’s so much easier to manage.

[00:29:36]So I don’t want to have to dock somebody’s PTO for taking a half day, right. Like we used to, Oh, hey, if you’re gone more than four hours, it becomes a full day. Right.

[00:29:45] The level of trust that we want to have with our teams these days, I think is why a lot of companies do it. And on the flip side of it, you know, Tommy talk about burnout, on the flip side of it, if somebody, you know, is traveling, um, you know, on vacation and this might be the, um, the CEO in me talking, but if somebody’s traveling on vacation, but they’re also in the midst of closing, you know, um, the biggest deal they have that quarter, you know they’re going to be on call.

[00:30:13] Right. It doesn’t mean that they can’t take their vacation, but if, if, if, uh, if a prospect or a potential customer needs to reach them, they’re going to pick up the phone and I want them to pick up the phone. Right. So I’m not going to, hey if they’re picking up the phone during their vacation, let’s not count it as vacation.

[00:30:27] Nick Schenck: [00:30:27] Yeah. That’s about having the right incentives, too.

[00:30:32] Nad Elias: [00:30:32] Right. And I think it goes back to what Tommy is saying, the unlimited PTO, it’s how you communicate it.

[00:30:38]Nick Schenck: [00:30:38] There’s something that recruitAbility put on its blog recently about companies, big companies, Amazon, Google, IBM, that are actually buying up office space during COVID and Nad, when we were talking offline, you brought up something that was interesting to me that if you think about those companies, they collect all types of data on employee productivity and maybe they know something that the rest of us don’t, that they’re looking at the numbers and they’re seeing that their workforce’s productivity has declined as they’ve worked remotely.

[00:31:17] And so they’re getting a headstart on every other company that hasn’t come to that realization yet, buying up cheap office space because they think it’s going to be inevitable that people are going to come back to the office post COVID. Tommy, what’s your opinion on that?

[00:31:35]Tommy Hansen: [00:31:35] I have to admit I’ve never worked for a large company, as you know, I’ve had them as clients but haven’t worked internally. I could see where productivity could be more of an issue in a big company because people don’t have a sense of what they do in that day has a direct impact as much as you maybe have in a smaller business or a startup. So I can’t really speak to that too much. Our productivity has actually been really, really strong. But we have the sense of everything that you do every day, you see the direct impact of that. I can imagine that would be difficult in a really big environment where you’re one of 2,000 recruiters, right? Or you’re CEO of just one division of five that each has thousands of employees. People that I know in my network, um, who are primarily people from startups, uh, they’re having less of an issue with it because people see that direct impact of their work. And it’s that much easier for leadership to identify if someone’s slacking or not.

[00:32:33]Nad Elias: [00:32:33] I’m interested to see how that trend continues. The big companies tend to make their decisions based on, you know, again, it’s data science for them, right.

[00:32:41] They have these pools of data and they’re able to measure productivity at a scale that a smaller company might not be able to measure yet. And we find that sometimes the smaller companies – the startups to the mids – they tend to follow suit on what the bigger companies, the decisions that they make.

[00:32:58] Right. I mean like, Facebook announced nobody’s going back till July 2021. And suddenly companies fell. They’re like: Oh yeah, Facebook said that. So we’re going to say it too, right?

[00:33:08]Nick Schenck: [00:33:08] Zillow said it.

[00:33:09] Nad Elias: [00:33:09] Oh, they said it right away.

[00:33:10]And I agree with you, Tommy, especially for certain functions,  they’re going to be able to operate remote at a high capacity. I think we’re going to start seeing roles, again, software development, engineering might be one of them that, that need that real-time collaboration in the office environment.

[00:33:27] You’re going to start seeing a gravitation back into the office, mid to late next year. Um, you know, there’s a reason why these companies are buying up space right now.

[00:33:43]Nick Schenck: [00:33:43] Tommy, what’s your prediction for the work environment. Is it going to be all virtual for a while? People are going back in the office? How do you see it materialize in the next, maybe 12 to 18 months?

[00:33:56] Tommy Hansen: [00:33:56] Yeah. I think some companies are going to take more of the approach to go remote. Like I have some friends that work for startup companies that have already announced that they’re going to be remote long-term, but I think if we kind of generalize it across the U.S., I think people will go back to the office.

[00:34:11] I think people are going to miss that. Um, and I’m already hearing that, you know, a lot of people are asking, when do you think you’ll open again? Like I actually want to be back in an office environment, but I think we’re going to see it shift to even more flexible. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you know, offices reopened, but people tend to do four days a week in the office and one at home.

[00:34:34] I think there’ll be more flexibility like that moving forward after COVID, but I think, uh, it will go back more to the way it was prior than this drastic change of always being remote. Like a lot of people are predicting. That’s my personal opinion. I don’t know what our philosophy will be at Juniper Square since we’re remote until July of 2021. But I think I feel a sense internally that we’ll continue to have our offices and people going inside.

[00:35:03]Nad Elias: [00:35:03] We went in-person Monday and Wednesday and totally voluntary. We said, look, if you guys want to come in, we’ve got a big office. You can come in. And, um, you know, we respect all the different protocols and what we found is the ones that came into the office are the ones with kids.

[00:35:22]The millennials that work here, they’re, they’re, they’re totally fine in their, in their one bedroom apartment with their sweet set-up in-home office. The rest of us that have kids were like, we’re ready to get the hell out. How quick can we come back to the office?

[00:35:36] Nick Schenck: [00:35:36] That’s me. You just described me.

[00:35:38] Nad Elias: [00:35:38] That’s who’s in our office right now. It’s everybody that has kids and just need to get out of the house .

[00:35:44] I mean, this is totally unrelated, but I read today that, um, there’s not gonna be any more Luby’s. Luby’s has gone.

[00:35:51] Like Luby’s has been a staple. I went to Luby’s as a kid. Luby’s has been a staple, um, uh, especially in Texas, but, but, but all over for a long time and you know, they couldn’t make it through COVID. Cafeteria style food isn’t going to make it through COVID.

[00:36:10]Nick Schenck: [00:36:10] I think open office environments, those days are numbered, too.  I remember early in my career , I would feel like pressure to tough it out if I felt sick to go to work. Um, and then inevitably when people have that mentality, everyone else gets sick at work.

[00:36:27] Yeah. But I was like, I felt I would feel guilty if I had a little cold for, to stay home and, uh, now, I think it’s going to shift where if somebody comes to work with like a little bit of a cold, and they’re just trying to brute strength it, their coworkers are gonna be like, no, leave now. Like you could get reprimanded for that.

[00:36:47] Nad Elias: [00:36:47] And it’s going to work the other way around too. I know when I was, when I first became a manager, man, I was a hard ass. Somebody would call in sick, I was like, you’re not really sick. Get your ass to the office. You’re not sick  You can’t say that now , if you tell somebody that, they’re like, no, man, I might have COVID. And I’m like, yeah, you’re right. Stay home.

[00:37:04] Nick Schenck: [00:37:04] You’ve softened over the years.

[00:37:07] Nad Elias: [00:37:07] I think you’re right.  There are a lot of, uh, um, you know, managers that, that have had that mentality over the years and, um, uh, it’s sort of a reverse guilt, right?

[00:37:17] I’m gonna, I’m gonna, you know, guilty for not coming in. Um, uh, because you need to be in the office and that that mentality, um, is going to change. And that’s a good thing at the end of the day.

[00:37:28]Nick Schenck: [00:37:28] I agree.  Um, well, we’re going to wrap up now, but Tommy, we want to thank you for joining. We really appreciate it. Uh, you’re our first remote guest, so you have that honor. I appreciate it.

[00:37:39] Nad Elias: [00:37:39] And speaking of remote, uh, just in the spirit of this conversation, uh, we’ve had, we’ve had the opportunity to, to, to connect with Tommy in some of our pre-calls, but, um, you’ve been jet setting, man.

[00:37:51] Tell us where you’re at now. Um, I, I love hearing the, the, the virtual environment working at its very best.

[00:37:57]Tommy Hansen: [00:37:57] Okay. So I stayed at home for a long time and then decided that I should use this opportunity to work remotely, but also see family, obviously in a safe environment and social distancing.

[00:38:10] So I’ve been to New Mexico and then back home to where I grew up in Minnesota,-Wisconsin area seeing family. Um, so it’s been nice to be able to continue to work but also be able to kind of see loved ones after kind of being at home for five consecutive months. Uh, so yeah, New Mexico and Wisconsin-Minnesota area.

[00:38:34] Nad Elias: [00:38:34] Um, Tommy, we appreciate your time, man.

[00:38:35] I know how busy you are and this has been, um, a great value to us and, uh, we love having you on and hopefully we can have you on again soon.

[00:38:44] Tommy Hansen: [00:38:44] Yeah, it’s been an honor. Thank you so much for having me. And I’m glad to hear you’re both staying healthy and doing well during this very interesting year. So thank you again.