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Are you thinking of employee happiness or just doing churn and burn

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Talk-Commerce Kalen Jordan Crickets

Commerce running, talking geek

What are you doing to retain your employees? Are you thinking of happiness, or is your business model churn and burn. Brent and Kalen talk about this subject in this short episode.

Brent: All right. What we’re talking about, some fun stuff today, man. You had some really topics, all 

Kalen: sorts of topics, all sorts of fun stuff. We’re gonna go all over the map. 

Brent: What is the end of your podcast this week? Or is it a video 

Kalen: series?

Kalen: We’re figuring it out as we go. We’re figuring it out as we go. And it will be reveal at the proper time, 

Brent: but I’m gonna, we are in the, we were, we are gonna remix and it is also gonna be a bonus episode on talk commerce. Perfect. Fantastic. Fantastic. So we’re, we’ll see, it’ll be competing and we should release it together.

Brent: Same week, same apple podcast stream. 

Kalen: You’re gonna compete with my own podcast. All I can 

Brent: do is try to keep, I can try to keep up with 

Kalen: that non GMO microphone. 

Brent: Yes. But I do feel like on my stream, I’m gonna put a bunch of beeps in. Just to cover up your swearing. Oh, okay. 

Kalen: Son of a bur yep.

Kalen: Burp. Yeah I do swear a lot these days. just not on podcasts. You’re 

Brent: You’re in Texas. You have to, 

Kalen: it’s a lot, it’s a lot to swear about including. Employee culture and happiness, which is one of my favorite topics. Really. Okay. It really is. I’m big on call employee culture and happiness.

Kalen: I’m surprised that you’re surprised you sounded like you were surprised by that, which I don’t I’m particularly 

Brent: appreciate. I, because I’m not surprised. 

Kalen: That’s my whole, that’s my whole life. 

Brent: That’s your whole shtick. 

Kalen: I have a handbook. Have you read my handbook on employee culture and happiness? 

Brent: No. No, we should read it right now.

Brent: yeah, no, I don’t have a, it could be like an audio book. 

Kalen: yeah, one of these days it’ll be an audio book. No, but that was something you wanted to talk about was employee culture and happiness. 

Brent: So yeah, I think in today’s age, when while we’re here in Minnesota, the unemployment rate is 2% or something like that.

Brent: Oh, crazy. Like crazy low. Yeah. As an employer, you have to go the extra mile to retain your employees. 

Kalen: you have no choice. So is this just a pragmatic, is this just a pragmatic thing? Listen, if the if the unemployment rate were higher, we wouldn’t care about this at all, but because it’s so low.

Kalen: We gotta bite the bullet and be nice to people. 

Brent: yeah. That is a great, that is a great way to look at it. I will answer that in full transparency that that you should not take an employment rate into account. And the reason is what does it cost to rehire the next person?

Brent: The 2% is a hard. Wall for an employer to get over. Because there’s simply not anybody you can hire, right? Yeah. Let’s just say it’s 10%. You get really sloppy and you’re hiring. You’re like, oh, we’ll hire people and blah, blah, blah. And if they leave, who cares? Just because we can hire more people.

Brent: Yeah. But does that mean because you’ve hired somebody new that person is gonna just hit the ground running. like even in the programming world, developers theoretically could be the fastest onboarding person you could have because hopefully your projects is detailed well, and they can come in and they just look at the requirements they’re already qualified.

Brent: They could start working right away. There’s still gonna be a week or two of rampup 

Kalen: Point them at some tasks and have ’em like jump right in, in theory. 

Brent: Yeah. Theoretically, they’re gonna have to learn a little bit, but let’s just say have two weeks or a month to get them up and running. Okay.

Brent: Let’s just say in the US developers make whatever we’ll use a round number, a hundred grand a year. What does that then cost you that’s $8,000 that you have to pay that one month of trying to get everybody up and running, onboarding all those other things.

Brent: Yeah, so it’s a lot of money. I think that, that 2% unemployment rate is a wake up call to employers who haven’t been big on employee culture and should be working on that. 

Kalen: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. No, and yeah, I was just kidding. It’s easy for me to beat, to joke about these things.

Kalen: Cause I don’t have any employees and. And then I give you a heart. You actually have responsibilities over there. So I’m busting your chops. but 

Brent: it is a I appreciate that question and I believe that is a completely fair question to ask any employer. I 

Brent: think it’s a factor for sure.

Kalen: It doesn’t change, like what’s the right thing to do, but it is a factor. But what are, so you’ve been in the. Working world for a long time. Since the Dawn, but so what are some things that are top of mind for you as far as like employee culture, 

Brent: keep people happy.

Brent: think that Time off is certainly a big one. Having well planned and thought out like for a developer, right? want a developer wants to have a project manager that is going to help them be better developers they’re they don’t want help technically, but they need help org or 

Kalen: they things to be organized.

Kalen: They just want like requirements not to change things to be straight forward, tell me what I need to do. I can do it. It’s not gonna change 16 times and then I can get it 

Brent: done. Yeah. They want them to run interference.

Brent: They don’t want the client talking to them directly. Yeah. They, hopefully the project manager can handle all that. So yeah, from a, from an employee stand happiness standpoint, we want to encourage that and support that. Yeah. All those pieces as you come down the whole pipeline of getting work done.

Kalen: That’s really good, actually, because there’s so many different, you could talk about benefits and perks and but I really think the core of what a developer cares about is exactly that make the work itself. Clean to whatever extent, in the real world, things are gonna change.

Kalen: Things are gonna be requirements are gonna be fuzzy and stuff like that, but as much as possible make, the process of getting work, done the project management structure, like straightforward, I think also probably you wanna work on challenging stuff. Interesting stuff too. That’s also obviously gonna be a big component.

Kalen: But like the work itself, make the work, improve the work itself, as opposed to all the things around it that are important. Are. Nice to haves, but they’re not really the core of what your job is about. 

Brent: Yeah. This actually, this whole discussion would be better for a panel.

Brent: If we had say four or five employers, that’d like to just talk about what is it that they, or even employees like are just a regular. Developers. No developers are regular, they’re all extraordinary. Find four extraordinary developers, which are every developer and ask them what makes them happy.

Brent: You’re probably gonna get four different answers, right? Some of them want to get paid. Some of them would like lots of time off. Some of them like flexibility in their schedule, as a edge agile, is all kinds of things. It’s, it is gonna be varied. It’s a complicated, it is a complicated task.

Brent: But that culture that any company embodies would have people that have been there for a long amount of time and they would be the ones driving this culture, the ones that like the culture. So maybe it is about time off or flexibility. Those are the ones that are gonna stick around.

Brent: And if somebody doesn’t care about some of those other things, then all they wanna do is make the biggest money. Then that’s where you see developers jumping from jumping around the agency. And again, I don’t wanna make it sound too general. Like not it just because somebody goes from one agency to the other because they make more money.

Brent: Doesn’t mean they’re jumping because of the money. There’s all kinds reasons. I don’t want to generalize it, but it’s just an example of the different parts of that. That encompass that whole idea of employee happiness. 

Kalen: I think of the dev teams that seem felt to me, the strongest are where there’s this combination of you enjoy working with your peers, you respect them. They help you and also challenge you. So if you have a problem, you can get feedback, get help, get support. The work is interesting. You have a high level of autonomy or ownership of what you’re doing.

Kalen: There’s not a lot of red tape and, nonsense. And and then you get paid well, that’s that never 

Brent: all those 

Kalen: things, right? Yeah. But you’re an employee, right? Are you technically an employee? Yes, I am. Are you ha are you happy? Are you, 

Brent: That’s good. Yeah. I think part of that is autonomy.

Brent: You want to give people a degree of autonomy to to be able, you wanna give them space to make some of their own decisions. Yeah. So that’s huge. Yeah. I think one thing that’s always important is knowing what is that space? And then what is, how does creativity go into that space?

Brent: As an employer, you want to recognize that people need some of that space, right? They, and they, and if you’re demanding so much time out of it what is an acceptable, modest time to for either create creative growth or personal growth or educational growth?

Kalen: Yeah, because like I remember this one dev team I was on and we were working on a new project. It was interesting. It was fun. It was exciting. And then certain people were building certain components of it. And. When you talk about like creativity and stuff, like they were taking some very creative approaches to the architecture of how to build this thing.

Kalen: And we would talk about it and be like, oh yeah, it’s gonna, it’s gonna work like this. And it’s gonna be super extensible. And it’ll, the code’s gonna be so clean. It’s gonna be. You could tell they were super excited about it from like a creativity standpoint and it sounded cool.

Kalen: It sounded great. But then, a day turns into a week, turns into two weeks and it’s like the thing isn’t getting done, and it’s oh yeah. And they show, show you all the stuff. And then they have a good explanation for why it’s not done.

Kalen: It’s oh I gotta do this. And then I got da, and I gotta refactor it. And they’re all good reasons. And then sometimes people just get caught in like a loop of things can be complicated. And so that’s the flip side of it, is if you’re too creative, like you gotta get stuff done.

Kalen: Like you gotta get, things out the door.

Brent: Yeah, in the development world, there’s always a push and pull be between the developer who is a perfectionist. And the developer, who’s just a get stuff done. Developer. In a past life I did development work.

Brent: I would never say I was a developer, a very good one anyways, and I was a get stuff, done, person because especially if you’re a. Single contractor, or, you are the only person accountable to that customer. And so you’re just trying to get as much steps down as you possibly can.

Brent: I think another good role for a project manager is to be that person who can say this task actually takes this long and to do it right. It’s gonna take that long. And the only way to get around doing it right, is doing it wrong. 

Kalen: Say the only way 

Brent: to get a, if you, the only way that’s not do it right.

Brent: Is to not do it. You can say it in so many words, but if you want it done faster, you’re gonna have to take some shortcuts and chances are, it’s not gonna be right. Like you’re not gonna write your unit tests or you’re not gonna do QA on it, or you’re gonna skip over a bunch of functions that, or whatever it is, there’s just things you can do to cut corners.

Kalen: Yeah. And then that’s the problem. Like I’m a get stuff. I’m a get stuff done developer and I can move pretty quickly, but I’m not like the perfectionist. And then the downside to that of course, is that, down the road, you realize there’s technical debt.

Kalen: There’s limitations to what you built that really can start to compound over time. And I really should have taken a little extra time and done it, done it. The fir, but there’s really no such thing as doing it. You want to do it as.

Kalen: As best as you can and then improve on that. And that, and this is why somebody that’s been coding for 10 years is so much more efficient. Somebody’s been doing it for a year because they’ve gone through enough of those cycles that they can see, the problems ahead of them and then fix them, from the get go.

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