Q&A with Julia Markish, Director of Advisory Services at Lattice

Julia Markish, Director of Advisory Services at Lattice, has a professional mission to impact the way work works so that people can live more fulfilled, integrated lives. She helps business leaders create inclusive, supportive, and effective environments that result in organizational success and thriving teams. She has advised executives on organizational culture through her independent practice, Orca, coached and trained leaders on how to achieve clarity for themselves and their teams via Talentism, trained and led discussions about Reinventing Organizations with the Teal Team, which she co-founded, and started and led the Employee Practice at Medallia.

It isn’t stated values, but rather behaviors and norms, that actually comprise a company’s culture.



MEDIA 7: Could you please walk us through your two-decade-long professional journey and what made you choose this career path?
JULIA MARKISH:
Coming out of college, I chose consulting as a profession for the common reason of having little idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I stayed in it for as long as I did, however, not because the work proved to be so perfect for me (it didn’t), but because at Bain, I felt like a valued and cared-for member of a community — I belonged. This was my introduction to — or perhaps induction in — employee engagement: I was engaged because of my sense of connection to the people, not because of a (lack of) connection to the work. That was what made me go snooping around the world of eNPS at Bain; it was what pushed me to take up managing LinkedIn’s Talent Brand, and it redirected me to HuddleUp, the front-line-team engagement platform started by Bain’s NPS guru, Fred Reichheld. After we were acquired by Medallia, I quickly became both the internal and external advocate for Employee Experience, leading the Employee Practice there for several years.

This was also the time when my compass underwent an evolution — when I started thinking more about fulfillment versus fun, purpose versus passion. I began to consider cultures — and the people who make up those cultures — more holistically, in the context of history, society, and the natural world. I did some independent work around organizational culture and alignment. I became an executive Clarity Coach with a forward-thinking coaching company called Talentism. I co-founded the Teal Team, based on Frederic Laloux’s seminal work - Reinventing Organizations. Finally, mid-pandemic, I found my way to Lattice, which was just starting to think about an Advisory Services function. The moment I saw Lattice’s mission, to make work meaningful, I knew it was the right next step.


M7: How does people strategy drive business strategy? Could you please elaborate?
JM:
Global industry has been steadily moving in the direction of people-centricity for the duration of industry’s existence, but it’s only become a common philosophy in the last half-century or so. Now more than at any other time, a company is more likely to be thought of as an ecosystem than as a machine. Knowledge work, specialization, continuous innovation, a focus on customer experience — today’s most valued attributes all rely on employees being valued and encouraged to be individuals. The hallmark of a machine is that while everything is interconnected, it’s also expendable — any one part can be easily replaced.

This kind of approach is what the industrial revolution was built on. In an ecosystem, on the other hand, there is a delicate balance between each participant — its hallmark is more or less the opposite of expendability so each part defines the state of the whole. This is where we find ourselves today. In an ecosystem, in order to care for the whole (execute on business strategy) it is imperative to also care for the organisms that make up the whole: ensure that they are well adjusted to the environment, that they have what they need to flourish, that they can contribute in a meaningful way. Translated into business terms: people strategy drives business strategy.


Knowledge work, specialization, continuous innovation, a focus on customer experience — today’s most valued attributes all rely on employees being valued and encouraged to be individuals.



M7: How does Lattice manage to make the 'Remote Work', work?
JM:
Lattice has a number of principles and tools in place that first helped us adjust to remote work, and have continued to help make it sustainable.

  • In terms of principles, the most important one has been ‘Clear Eyes,’ which is one of our company values. Clear Eyes means transparency and honesty, no matter what. Whether it’s leadership sharing a WIP remote policy to keep the company informed of their thought process despite not having an exact answer or plan, or it’s individual employees who have the courage to call out when they are confused or taking on too much.
     
  • This segues into the second principle, which is to truly be people-first. Our policies focus on how to enable people not just to work well, but to be well. Leaders model behaviors that support that, too — they take time off, they respond to all-hands questions with a lens of self-care.
     
  • And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lattice uses Lattice — it’s been a critical tool for engaging employees in their work and each other, be it through private feedback, pulse surveys, praise, 1:1s, or even performance reviews.


M7:  Employee engagement and performance feedback help to shape company culture. Could you please shed some light on this?
JM:
I often remind our clients that engagement and performance programs are as much communication devices as they are requests for input. How frequently we run engagement or performance cycles, what questions we ask employees to respond to, the attention we give each cycle, and the actions we take as a result — in the case of engagement surveys, action plans at the team or company level; in the case of performance reviews, discussions between the employee and their manager — are all indicators of what’s important ‘around here,’ and what isn’t. For example, a company that asks only managers to provide a series of ratings for each of their team members’ accomplishments is sending a very different message from the company that requests qualitative input on the strengths and potential of employees from across multiple sources. These messages shape the company’s culture: they demonstrate to employees what behaviors are encouraged and which ones will go unnoticed. In the case of these two hypothetical companies, for example, I would expect collaboration to be much more prevalent in the latter company than in the former.


The most essential way to stay competitive is to continuously analyze for product-market fit.



M7: What do you think is essential to stay competitive in a market that is going through constant digitalization?
JM:
At the risk of coming off as simplistic, I think the most essential way to stay competitive is to continuously analyze for product-market fit. In addition, it’s critical to be aware of whether the digitization of a given market is accompanied by an updated philosophy, or if it’s simply a simplification of an analog process. Digital technology reaches different functions and different sectors at different paces, and it’s just as dangerous to try to ‘revolutionize’ a given sector earlier than it’s ready as it is to arrive as a late entrant to an already highly competitive market. When I look at the Performance Management industry, there are some companies that are running annual paper-based reviews, others that are relying on their HRIS to provide the digital equivalent of a paper-based review, and then there are those that have embraced a completely different approach to performance management — one that has only been made possible by new technology (continuous feedback, goal alignment and integration, and so on).


M7: What advice would you like to give our readers?
JM:
One of the biggest exploding-head moments of my career was realizing that it isn’t stated values, but rather behaviors and norms, that actually comprise a company’s culture. And that those behaviors and norms are not just a result of the combination of employees’ personalities; they are eminently open to influence. Just as described above, what the leadership of a company communicates to be important, worthy, rewarded is what rises to the top of the behavioral pyramid. And of course, I don’t just mean ‘say’ when I write ‘communicate’ — talking about the importance of something is step one, but then there’s ‘walking the talk.’ What gets spotlighted at allhands? Who gets praise during a team meeting? Who got the most recent promotion? What gets asked about in the engagement survey and what gets acted on? These are all signals that shape a company’s culture. And it’s only when the company’s stated values are aligned with those signals that the values are worth the paper (or walls) they’re written on.

ABOUT LATTICE

Lattice is the people management platform that enables leaders to develop engaged, high-performing teams. By combining performance management, employee engagement, and career development in one platform, Lattice provides powerful, real-time insights through analytics. Lattice's Advisory team brings together client data, industry knowledge, and market research to distill successful practices across People Programs.

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Principal Financial Group® | January 16, 2024

The picture of retirement is evolving with more Americans turning 65 in 2024 than any year1 before. According to new research from Principal Financial Group®, expectations around how and when to retire by generation vary greatly – placing increased focus on employee engagement and personalized investment strategies to help improve financial security and retirement readiness. Phased retirement appeals to younger workers who want to retire earlier According to the Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM, among Americans in the workforce, gradually decreasing hours is the most desired way to retire (52%) and is most preferred by Generation X (67%) and millennials (56%). Baby boomers and Generation Z report similarities in how they want to retire, with nearly half preferring to move immediately from working full-time to not working at all. This echoes the most common approach taken by current retirees surveyed2, a group in which just over one quarter (28%) either transitioned careers or gradually phased down from their primary career. “Attitudes and expectations for retirement continue to evolve, and we expect the desire to approach retirement in phases will continue to grow with future generations,” said Chris Littlefield, president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal®. While there are some similarities in how generations want to retire, they have different expectations on timelines and the age at which they plan to retire. The youngest generation, Gen Z, expects to retire at 55 – approximately 10 years earlier than baby boomers (68) and Gen X (64), and four years sooner than millennials (59). Employees prioritize saving for retirement The survey revealed employees are focused on balancing basic needs with long-term savings outcomes against a backdrop of ongoing economic pressures that continue to top their list of concerns. Employees of all generations ranked saving for retirement as their top financial priority, followed by affording basic needs and paying off consumer debt3. "Saving for retirement is the No. 1 financial priority for employees surveyed, which validates that access to workplace benefits and financial wellness programs is helping Americans save for retirement and achieve better financial outcomes,” Littlefield said. “Going forward, increased personalization as well as tailored savings and investment strategies that take into account an individual’s financial goals, lifestyle, health care needs, dependent care obligations, retirement income expectations, and other unique factors will help achieve improved financial security in retirement.” Retention and recruitment of older employees critical for business success Employee interest in phased retirement has added value for employers. Most employers (77%) agree that the knowledge older employees have about their company is crucial to their business’s success. Employers concerned with “having valuable employees retire” are more likely to take actions to either retain them or hire employees who previously retired from other companies. Despite this, not all employers have experience with offering phased retirement. Only 11% of small and midsized businesses4 reported they offer phased retirement job opportunities on a regular basis compared to nearly one quarter of large businesses5. However, interest is there, as 61% of businesses that don’t offer a phased retirement still receive questions from employees about the options. See all results and insights from the latest Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM (PDF). According to the Alliance for Lifetime Income This wave included a survey of 137 individuals between the ages of 50 and 75 who consider themselves retired or have previously fully retired and gone back to work. In order to be included in the survey sample, employees must work full-time, and their employer has to offer either health insurance or retirement as an employee benefit. Businesses with 2-499 employees Businesses with 500-10,000 employees About the Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM surveys business owners, decision makers and business leaders aged 21 and over who work at companies with 2-10,000 employees and offer either health insurance or retirement as an employee benefit. The nation-wide survey, commissioned since 2012, examines the financial well-being of American workers and business employers. In 2020, the Well-Being Index was transformed from an annual survey to a regular pulse, offering three waves, revisiting questions and measuring sentiment regarding timely issues in the small and midsized business marketplace. In the first pulse of the Well-Being Index in 2022, the employee audience was added to the survey to compare and contrast key sentiment from employers. The survey was commissioned by Principal® and conducted online by Dynata from November 6-13, 2023, with a total of 500 business owners, decision makers and business leader participants and a total of 200 employee participants. This wave included a survey of 127 individuals who consider themselves retired or have previously fully retired and gone back to work. The research report focuses on providing a holistic perspective on key trends and timely issues in the small and medium business market. About Principal Financial Group® Principal Financial Group® is a global financial company with 19,500 employees1 passionate about improving the wealth and well-being of people and businesses. In business for more than 140 years, we’re helping more than 61 million customers1 plan, protect, invest, and retire, while working to support the communities where we do business, and build a diverse, inclusive workforce. Principal® is proud to be recognized as one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies® by Ethisphere2, a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and a “Best Places to Work in Money Management3.”

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Payroll

Novo Announces Novo Payroll for Small Businesses, Powered by Check

Check | January 25, 2024

Novo, the powerfully simple® financial solutions platform for small businesses, announced Novo Payroll. Working with Check, the leading payroll infrastructure company that pioneered the ability for platforms to embed payroll into their products, Novo has launched a payroll solution that is fully integrated into Novo’s platform of small business banking, budgeting, and working capital solutions, enabling small businesses to manage their finances from a single platform. “Traditional small business payroll solutions consist of standalone applications characterized by high fees, burdensome cash-on-hand requirements, and either clunky or non-existent integrations between payroll and business bank accounts,” said Michael Rangel, founder and CEO of Novo. “In collaboration with Check, we built a payroll solution that simplifies and speeds up the process of paying small business employees." Novo leveraged Check’s embedded payroll API to build Novo Payroll. With coverage in all 50 states, Novo Payroll streamlines the entire payroll process, from calculating wages to facilitating direct deposits and managing tax withholdings. This provides businesses with a comprehensive payroll solution that not only reduces administrative burdens but also ensures accuracy and compliance with regulatory standards. Novo has conducted a beta of Novo Payroll, and will make the product available to Novo’s more than 200,000 small business customers in the coming weeks. Key features of Novo Payroll include Affordable, flat-rate pricing: Unlike other payroll platforms where individuals have to pay extra for a range of features, Novo offers all of its essential features — including state and tax filings, end of year reports, and more — at $35 per month plus a small fee per worker. Working capital for payroll: Small businesses who may need additional funds for a payroll cycle can apply for Novo Funding, a fast and flexible way to access working capital that’s available exclusively to Novo customers. Once approved for Novo Funding, customers can use the capital in minutes. Next day payments: With Novo Payroll, recipients can opt in to receive their paychecks the day after payroll is processed at no additional charge. Instead of needing the necessary payroll funds days in advance, small business owners simply need to have funds available the day of payroll processing. Built-in accounting and budgeting tools: Since Novo Payroll is fully embedded into the Novo platform, customers can seamlessly set aside funds for payroll, taxes, savings, and more using Novo Reserves. Single- and multi-state payroll: Novo Payroll automates state tax filings for small businesses that have employees in a single state, as well as in multiple states. Human-powered customer service: Novo Payroll customers have access to a range of resources to assist with payroll questions, including the option to call a Novo Payroll expert. “We founded Check with the goal of making payroll easier for as many small businesses as possible. By partnering with Novo, we’re able to reach an even broader set of businesses, giving them the tools they need to save time and money on what is all-too-often a cumbersome task,” said Andrew Brown, co-founder and CEO of Check. “Novo has already burnished its credentials as a leading provider of financial services for small businesses. By embedding Check’s payroll, Novo is able to provide a one-stop-shop for small business financial needs.” Novo Payroll is the latest in a series of products Novo has built for its small business financial solutions platform. Recently, Novo announced a range of updates to Novo Invoices, the company’s free invoicing application that small businesses have used to receive more than $500 million in payments. Novo also announced Novo Funding, offering small businesses a fast and flexible way to access working capital. About Novo Novo Platform, Inc. (“Novo”) is the powerfully simple financial platform for small businesses. About Check Check is the leading payroll platform that pioneered the ability for companies to differentiate and open up new revenue streams by embedding payroll into their platforms. Historically, complex regulatory structures stagnated payroll innovation, making it harder for businesses to create their own payroll offerings. By building on Check’s best in class infrastructure, flexible API, and deep expertise, platforms can launch profitable payroll businesses much faster, and with little overhead or administrative burden. Since Check’s public launch in January 2021, leading vertical SaaS companies and large scale workforce management horizontal platforms have built successful payroll businesses on its infrastructure. Check’s partners collectively serve more than 250,000 businesses and over 4 million employees. Check is backed by Stripe, Thrive Capital, Index Ventures, and Bedrock.

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