Career Compass

HR Over the Years with Dr. Chris Healy

Episode Summary

Season 6 of Career Compass kicks off with a look back in time, because in order to know where you are going, you must first know where you’ve been. Join hosts Vernon Williams and Aly Sharp alongside HR expert and Utah Tech University faculty member, Dr. Chris Healy, PhD, SHRM-CP, as they take historical look back at the field of Human Resources. During this episode, you'll learn about key pieces of legislation and actions that have shaped the workplace, as well as lessons from the past that remain helpful today.

Episode Notes

Season 6 of Career Compass kicks off with a look back in time, because in order to know where you are going, you must first know where you’ve been. Join hosts Vernon Williams and Aly Sharp alongside HR expert and Utah Tech University faculty member, Dr. Chris Healy, PhD, SHRM-CP, as they take historical look back at the field of Human Resources. During this episode, you'll learn about key pieces of legislation and actions that have shaped the workplace, as well as lessons from the past that remain helpful today.

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Episode transcript

Episode Transcription

Vernon Williams: Welcome back to season six of Career Compass, a podcast from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the SHRM Foundation. Career Compass prepares future leaders today for better workplaces tomorrow.

Aly Sharp: As the voice of All Things Work, SHRM supports students and emerging professionals with advice, information, and resources for every step of your career.

Vernon Williams: Designed for the student or emerging professional, Career Compass delivers timely, relevant, and critical conversations about work, to help you succeed in your career journey. Thank you for joining us for this episode. My name is Vernon Williams, and I will be your co-host.

Aly Sharp: And back for my second season, my name is Aly Sharp, and I will be your other co-host. This season, we're doing things a little different to celebrate SHRM's 75th anniversary. That's right. SHRM is celebrating 75 years of supporting HR professionals and the workplace as a whole.

Vernon Williams: To honor this milestone, we're going to host seven episodes focused on HR from the past, present, and future, with a common thread of driving change.

Aly Sharp: Joining us on today's episode for a historic look back at the field of human resources is Dr. Chris Healy, who has more than three decades of HR experience and currently teaches HR management at Utah Tech. Also, just so you know, this episode is valid for professional development credit or PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. We'll provide the code later in the episode, and with that, let's get started.

Vernon Williams: Wow, what a milestone. SHRM celebrating 75 years in existence. As the history buff, I really look forward to today's conversation, to get a sense of progress over the years. I think sometimes we take for granted the amount of change that has taken place, probably because we're participating in it. But as I reflect back at moments in time, then you can really see how things have truly evolved. So I'm really excited about today's conversation, our sixth season of Career Compass. Aly, what are you looking forward to about this episode or this season as a whole?

Aly Sharp: Honestly, I'm really excited to get to our episodes about the future of HR. Since I recently graduated, I think I have a pretty good understanding of where HR has come in the past and sort of where we are now. Obviously, that's going to be interesting too, but I'm really looking forward to the future and how evolving workplaces keep changing.

Vernon Williams: This is typically where I would insert a millennial joke, but I'm just going to leave that alone and get to today's conversation. Dr. Chris Healy has 30 plus years of professional experience in industry spanning banking, healthcare, printing, trucking, sales, retail manufacturing, food sales, and academia. Currently, Chris is an assistant professor of HR management, organizational behavior and management at Utah Tech University. Chris owns Healyum HR, where she's consulted for educators, first responders, military, municipalities, and private sector employers. In addition to serving on multiple boards and committees, Chris is also the advisor for the university's Student HR Club. Thank you for your service, and the Color Country HR Association Board, as the college relations director. Chris's educational background includes a PhD in industrial organizational psychology from Walden University, a Master's of Arts and Human Resource Management from Webster University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Central Texas, plus certifications in HR, including her SHRM-CP credential. Wow. And I cut some of that short, so there's so much to talk about today. And with that, Career Compass would like to warmly welcome Dr. Chris Healy.

Chris Healy: Thank you, Vernon. Thank you, Aly. It's so nice to be here today. Welcome to my home in Southern Utah.

Vernon Williams: All right. We're going to get started with perhaps some of our listeners may not be fully aware of the field of HR. So at its core, when you think of human resources, what is the field about? And how would you describe it to somebody who's not familiar with the workplace concept?

Chris Healy: Okay, so this is a really good question, and I get asked this actually regularly. "What do you do?" Because people don't know. So traditionally, back in the past, I'd say people thought about HR as "you're the folks that hire and fire and fire all the paper. That's what you do." And so, when I put HR into a definition, what I call it is, we're the team that helps you with your human capital strategies, and it's really all about risk management and business partnership. And that is it. Absolutely everything that we do in HR is risk management. And so, we'll talk a little bit about the hiring and firing. HR doesn't hire anybody. We may screen, and we may find the best talent to put in front of the managers. But they ultimately should be making the decision, because we have that business partnership. And in between all of that, we're making strategic moves as far as comp and benefits packages, employee relations, training and development, and all of the components of people management that come into play, that we need to have for an organization to operate.

Aly Sharp: I think it's important to also recognize that it seems as though I'm getting the impression that you're more of a HR generalist. You do kind of everything and not just in one bucket or another?

Chris Healy: Everything. And so, I have my entire career has been that of a generalist, and I would have it no other way. And the exciting thing about the field now is you can specialize. You can become a comp person, a benefits person, a talent acquisition, any of those things, where you maybe have a skillset that you just want to focus on within yourself. But I'm a generalist, because I like to do all the things. I like to use the entire... I have a business degree. That's my bachelor's is a business degree with an emphasis in HR. And the way I got into HR was, I didn't know if I wanted to be an accountant, a finance person, an economist, a doctor, a lawyer, a psychologist. I didn't know what I wanted to be. So my father came to me one day, and he is an HR person. He said, "just go into HR. You can touch all of it if you practice in the generalist realm." And so, that's what I've done. And so, it's never dull, it's never boring. I get to do all of it, so it's good.

Aly Sharp: Yeah, I also had the same thing. I was like, "I don't know what I want to do. Marketing is great, HR is great." And I was like, "oh, how about I do marketing for an HR company?" And that's how I landed a term.

Chris Healy: Yes, there you go.

Aly Sharp: I guess that kind of ties into our next question, which is, why did you pursue a career in HR? So I guess, once you got started, what made you realize that this was the end all for your career?

Chris Healy: Okay, so let me give you a little background. So I'm a military child, and I'm a military spouse. I started out as a traditional college student, studying psychology, and then, I dropped out. Because I ran out of something called money. You kind of need money to go to college. And so, I dropped out, became a banker for a little while, and then, decided to go back to school. And at that point, I had a family, so I had a little kid and all these kind of things. So I had to think about, what could I study in the university that I had access to. And that's when I really got to thinking about, what do I like? All these things came up that I just listed off. I went over to career services, because they have those little fancy tests that you can take, that tell you, "Hey, this is the occupation that fits you the best."

And I hit every job family on the pie, which just confirmed that I like all the things. And so, I went and sat down and talked to my father. Your father's often the sage for you. And he said, "just go into HR." So I got a business degree, which I highly believe in, that HR folks should have a business education, got a business degree, and then, started my career in HR as an HR coordinator for a staffing agency that specialized in nurses. So that's how I got in to HR. That was the draw, was my, what I call, the crazy "I want to do everything" situation.

Vernon Williams: You would've think that we rehearsed this, based on some of your responses there, because one, we're going to have a little bit of break later on. Because you're right, college is expensive and we're going to tell our listeners where there might be some financial support to help with some of that tuition. And two, we often talk about these transferable skills, and the fact that you majored in psychology, but then, obviously, work in the human resources field, I get the sense that we get quite a few of our participants in our programs that sort of follow a similar pathway. So we appreciate you sharing some of those insights and letting folks know that it is possible, regardless of what your major was in college, to make those transitions. And that probably leads into some of the other degrees that you sought and the certifications and so forth.

Chris Healy: Yes, it did, absolutely. And so, when I finished that bachelor's degree, I decided to roll right into a master's in HR, because my target was HR. And here was the problem. You bring up all these other degrees that people have. Getting into the field of HR can be difficult. You have to have something that sets you apart, something that just sets you apart, that says you have what it takes to be an HR person. And so, you see a lot of comm majors and psychology majors that make it, and they get picked up for their soft skills. But sometimes, if you don't know people, like I didn't, because I was a military family moving all over the country, you had to have that differentiating edge.

My differentiating edge was my master's degree in HR from Webster University. And I tell people, I bought my way into HR, with an expensive master's degree, and while I worked through that master's degree, that's when I worked as that HR coordinator. So you think about, you have to be willing to do things if you want to be in HR, or any occupation for that matter, to help you grow your career. I took an $8 an hour job with a bachelor's degree and took that $8 an hour job as only 30 hours a week, because it gave me HR experience while I went through that master's degree. So it wasn't an easy road, but I'm grateful that I was able to take it, and you just have to be an opportunist and look for those things.

Vernon Williams: Great advice. And I know that's going to come up throughout our conversation, but I want to go back just a little bit. Because this episode does focus on a historical look at the field of human resources. And so, in doing some research, I found that the general consensus is that modern human resources started around the 19th century or 18 hundreds, sometimes I get a little confused to 20th century and so forth. So 19th century or 18 hundreds, during the industrial revolution or manufacturing era, with a time in which we're like building things as a nation. At that time, many employees were parts of unions, which we don't talk a whole lot about today, even though I think I was in one a few years back, as part of my adjunct faculty responsibilities. But in general, how would you describe unions? And what are your thoughts on working with unions as an HR professional?

Chris Healy: So the past is really important to understand, so we understand our future. So when you come around to the beginning of the 19th century, like you said, the industrial revolution was really getting speed. People were migrating to larger cities, and the manufacturing processes were not necessarily as safe as what they are now. We didn't have the knowledge of how you train people, treat people, all of that. It was really capitalism at its finest, go in and make the money, and people were just disposable commodities. There was no care for the human element. You had the Gilbreths out there that were doing time motion studies, and it was really about speed and efficiency, and not about quality of work life at all. And so, between that and the fact that we had children that were working on farms, they were throwing hay and running the tractor and doing all the things.

And so, people thought, "well, there's some good labor, and they know how to work." So they would put them in the factories. You put these two things together, and what we had was people being overworked, people getting hurt, and then, being just thrown out with no rights. And just the things that we would classify as abusive. I don't know that they intended to be abusive. It was just the way the system worked back then. So this is where representation came in, and it started with the railroads, because the railroads had excessively hard work to do, building all of that across the United States, and then, it bled over into the private sector businesses. And it was necessary. It was necessary to have somebody stand up for the rights of the workers for what they got paid for their safety and their wellbeing and all of those things.

But then, as we've traversed through the decades, they've become less and less important, because we've had legislation and even activists that have stood up. And I'll talk about that in a minute. We had them stand up and say, "look, this is no good." And Congress started passing a series of laws. And so, the need for unions, I think, has diminished, but the need for it to go away can never happen. Because if we take it away, it will remove the checks and balances and the propensity of business to go awry and start treating people in a fashion that is not so healthy. It would be bound to arise again. So we need to have them there. We need to have them there, just to keep checks and balances in place.

Vernon Williams: So what would you say...? Because I mentioned the fact that I was part of a union as an adjunct faculty member, and my situation was a little bit unique and I acknowledged that, but I didn't see the value as much in the union presence. And I was obviously paying union dues, so I'm sort of putting money towards something that didn't necessarily directly benefit me. How would you talk to me as a potential employee around the value of the union?

Chris Healy: Well, and I've done this, I've actually done this. I worked at one organization, where we had unionized truck drivers. And when I arrived on the scene, I wanted to meet the union rep, like, "Hey, where's your union guy?" And they said, "oh, well, we dispatch you between one to five in the morning. So once a month, he comes in and sits in the break room." And I said, "and does he talk to you?" And they said, "no, he just sits on his phone." "Do you need him?" "No." Well, that particular day, I was there at dispatch to meet this guy. Didn't meet him. I don't know where he was. We rounded the corner, and I was still at work. I was there at one o'clock in the morning. I was still at work at four o'clock, when the trucks started rolling back in. And I caught one of the drivers, and I walked with him out to the parking lot. And he said, "why are you still here?"

I said, "I'm still here, because I have work to do, so that you guys have a good workplace." And I said, "how about your union rep? What about him?" He said, "oh no, he doesn't really talk to us. He doesn't do anything for us." I said, "why do you keep him?" And he said, "because the company won't port our pension plan over, so we have to keep the union to keep the pension plan." And I said, "okay." And I asked him straight up, I said, "why don't you guys just let me represent you?" He was like, "I'd love you to, but it's the pension." And so, I would tell an employee, there's enough laws out there for you to be able to come forward to your employer and speak to them. As long as you can do it respectfully and professionally about what your issues are, you don't need a middleman to come talk for you.

Now, I'm going to qualify that, because I've been in some organizations, as many of the folks that are going to listen to this podcast, where the management really wasn't the sort that would want to listen. That's when you get at risk for having the union come in place is when you won't listen. I have not seen it be about money. I've not seen it be about any of those tangible things, when they start to organize or talk about organizing. I've seen it about treatment. That's what I've seen it about. So as long as you can treat them well, they'll generally avoid it.

Vernon Williams: Makes sense.

Aly Sharp: You mentioned workplace legislation a few times, and our next question kind of focuses on that. There have been several signature pieces of legislation that have transformed the field of human resources, including Equal Employment Opportunity Laws, or EEOs, that protect against discrimination based on certain criteria. There's also the Fair Labor Standards Act, that protects employee wages and hours worked. Or even most recent laws, like the Affordable Care Act. In your opinion, which legislative pieces have had the greatest impact on workers and the workplaces?

Chris Healy: I'll say yes to all of the above, because it's a series. And if you take a look at it, between 1900 and 2000, over a hundred employment laws were passed.

Vernon Williams: Wow.

Chris Healy: And so, that's a lot of busy work on the part of congress. And I quit counting. In 2000, I just quit counting. That's just too much. I don't have enough toes to do that. So when I look at it and I really look at what's going on nowadays and what's transpired probably over the past 30 years, I see the Fair Labor Standards Act, even though passed in the 1930s, is still highly relevant, because now, what we've got, nobody's really paying minimum wage. Because the market won't bear it. It won't bear it at all. You won't get anybody. And so, we don't need it for that. What we need it for is when employers are trying to make somebody go to training, but they don't want to pay them for it. We need it, because I'm going to classify you as an independent contractor. Because I don't want to pay all the social security taxes.

And so, those kind of things, we still need in place. So that is one. The other one, FMLA has become huge. President Clinton gifted us with it in 1993, because people were just being thrown out. Because they were going out to have babies or they needed their appendix out or what have you, and they were just losing their job. So he gifted it with us, but now, it gives that protection for folks to be able to keep their job and remain viable talent for the organization, be contributors to that. And the last one, I think, is really big is all the mental health laws. As we've progressed, people have become more open to sharing their mental health crises and situations, and the world's become more difficult to operate in, I think, with all the social media and the stuff that's coming at us every day.

And so, this mental health and having the parity, I think, has been huge for us. It has opened up the doorway to making it acceptable. Back in my day, when I was a younger person, you didn't dare go forward with any mental health, because life insurance policies wouldn't cover you. People would reject you. You were just kind of the oddball out, if you professed it, and now, people can actually get the help and the legislation and the benefits, that said it's got to have parity with your med-surg benefits, has been enormous. And just even on the side of that, the EAP programs, huge.

Vernon Williams: Yeah, I got to give a shout out to our employer, SHRM, because they just provided us, as employees, with a really nice benefit of being able to talk to medical professionals, counselors, and so forth, through this telehealth network that they've established or set up for us, different than having to go in. And I had gone in to see a doctor and got that 180 some odd dollar bill in the mail, and now, I'm able to get those same services at no charge. So you're right in the sense of people are, and employers and companies are, paying a lot more attention to the mental health aspect.

Chris Healy: Yeah, absolutely. And Vernon, you mentioned that cost to that. When you put in a benefits package, you have to think, "what's the purpose of these benefits?" And they really are, again, risk management. So they keep your human capital at work or being able to work more productively, because they're healthy and well. At the same time, they prevent that catastrophic hit to the employee's financial wellbeing. And so, it is a win-win for everybody when those are put in place and actually embraced, not shunned, because some people may begrudgingly have them in there and still cause judgment. But I think the world overall has come to the point where, "hey, we need this, because everybody has something at some point and they cope differently." So it's good.

Vernon Williams: Absolutely.

Chris Healy: Congratulations to SHRM for doing that.

Vernon Williams: Thank you. I want to pause just for a second to take care of some housekeeping items. First, those of you listening to this podcast who are seeking professional development credit, this program is valid for five PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. The code to redeem your PDCs is 24-USNPG. Please note that this code will expire on February 22nd, 2024. Again, the code is the number two, the number four, dash, the letter U as in uniform, the letter S as in Sierra, the letter N as in November, the letter P as in papa, and the letter G as in golf.

Aly Sharp: And speaking of PDCs, one place to earn several PDCs, 28 in fact, while networking with your peers, connecting with mentors and expanding your HR knowledge is at SHRM23, taking place June 11th through 14th in beautiful Las Vegas. The SHRM Annual Conference and Expo, which has drawn more than 20,000 attendees in the past, is a can't miss experience for any current or emerging HR professional. You can register now to take part in a curated student experience, featuring career focused programming and discounted member pricing at just $425 for in-person registration and $275 for virtual passes. For more information, visit

Vernon Williams: Lastly, as we promised, a little bit of information for those of you who are pursuing undergraduate or graduate classes, if you could use a little bit of help paying for those classes, the SHRM Foundation offers scholarships ranging from $1,200 to $10,000. Deadline to apply for scholarships are Wednesday, March 8th. So visit and apply today. All right, jumping back into the podcast. So Chris, could you tell us about some examples that you might have dealt with, in terms of an issue at the beginning of your human resources career and maybe how that is managed or what that challenge looks like, in comparison to how it's handled with today's lens?

Chris Healy: Yeah, and so thinking about this, the one thing that I think that I've dealt with the most that I've seen the transition in and what I experienced was in staffing and creative staffing. It used to be people just came in, they gave you an application, you looked at it, you're like, "Hey, this person looks like they'd be good." Interview them. If they do well in the interview, you hire them. And people just came in. We have a little bit of a talent crisis going on, if nobody's seen that in the last couple years, with the great resignation, the great reshuffle, and the 4 million people turning every month. And so, creative staffing, I think, is where it's at. Again, used to go through, just post the job, and then, hope. Now, you've got to really be a creative thinker and think outside the box.

And so, you've got to think about scheduling. How can you schedule people? You've got to think about, this one's for you, Aly, how do you set up your employer brand? And that's different. That's not necessarily the same as the company brand. What's the employer brand? What does the culture say? What are the expectations inside the operation? What's the industry? How do you set up that employer brand? And then, how do you market to that, so that you actually attract the people that you want to come and apply to your job? You have to be able in this to be able to effectively work with the operations and sales leadership. It's their show. It is not HR's show, it's their show. So being able to partner with them and build that branding out, and then, talk to them and discuss with them, "Hey, where are we going to look for these folks at?"

You have to have an appetite for people that may not be the same thing that you've always brought on board. You may have to switch up some scheduling. So instead of having everybody eight to five, you might have to schedule people from 10 to six or whatever, because it fits somebody's schedule better. You may have to do some part-time, some full-time, those kind of things. I think that has changed tremendously. And the people that do that well are the people that are going to win in the talent war.

Vernon Williams: The challenge, I think, or the sense that what used to be in the fact that people, I felt like, were taking pride in their responsibility and their work has somewhat shifted. And I think, at the core of your comments, Chris, what I think about most is, whether that's an employee who did that or whether that's the company culture or the employer who did that. I think about something like what my parents had being a pension plan and the fact that now we have these 401ks. So who, and maybe you actually might know the answer to this, but who started that trend of loyalty and which one sort of blinks first? So now, you've got employees who are sort of mercenaries, and they can take their talents anywhere. Because it's not an incentive necessarily tying them to the company.

That being said, I know that I work for SHRM, and we do have a pension plan. And my boss is listening to this. And a 401k. I love where I work right now, but I know that's not everybody's reality. Everybody doesn't have that, that is tying them and making sure that they sort of keep their talents or their loyalty in one place. So I know that the environment has changed, and I think about what caused this sort of rift that I think is leading to the war on talent, where somebody is willing to jump ship for $5,000. Whereas before, you might have been thinking quality of life or some of these other things that might have been more meaningful to you.

Chris Healy: Yeah, and that's a fun question you ask. It's kind of like, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Go back and prove it. But go back to the earlier comments, where we talked about the unions and how corporate America was treating people. And the pendulum switches and it goes back and forth, and so, it is a supply and demand issue. It is a buyer versus seller market. All of those kind of things, however you want to classify it, take place. And when we flipped into the seventies, it was a new set point was made, because pensions, people didn't want to offer these pensions. The government came out and said, "Hey, you guys can do this thing called a 401k." And for those that are listening that aren't familiar, that's a section of the IRS code. And so, we call it a 401K, that allowed for you to put aside money pre-tax. And the employer could match that and they could write it off as well.

And so, that took the handcuffs off the employee from having to stay at a company, because they would lose their pension if they left. And then, as we go through the history of things, this is just what I see is, back when, say in the seventies and eighties, there were not a lot of different jobs out there. There were these basic kind of jobs that existed. Computerization was really at its infancy, so there wasn't even a lot of computer jobs. There wasn't a lot of knowledge work. There was a lot of labor that went on, and people took jobs, because they needed a job.

And they worked the job, because that's what they could do. I could remember being 15 years old, I took a job. I was living in El Paso, and I wanted a job. And it was really hard to find a job. I took a summer job, where I built trails up the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, where I hand mixed the cement, pulled up the rocks, and we built the trails. So that people that were visiting that area could go walk on the trails. Now, that's heavy work, right?

Vernon Williams: Oh yeah.

Chris Healy: You ask somebody nowadays to do that, and they're going to be like, "oh no, I'm just going to go over here and I'm going to make video games, or I'm going to be a gamer." And so, the knowledge work has come along, and in the midst of all of that, you've got the 401k, so there's no handcuffs. And corporate America continues to lay off and rehire and lay off and rehire and lay off and rehire. The manner in which the company lets you go when that happens says a lot about their culture, says a lot about people that want to return, says a lot about being able to bring people back in, because word spreads. We have social media now, people crowdsource information. They do all the things.

And so, now, we've kind of got these two ends of the spectrum, where companies profess to treat people very, very well, and employees profess to have all the skills that they want and that they're loyal. But when you put them together, when one of them has a need that supersedes what the other one wants, they do what they want. And so, that's going on. There is a lot of freedom going on between both sides. So which started first? I don't know. I don't know. I think that it is a historical evolution, and it's a back and forth.

Vernon Williams: I was just getting ready to say that. I think your point is well taken, that it swings back and forth. And literally, I think that's what we saw. We saw people quitting like crazy and running all over the place to whatever job was paying them the highest, and then, what, six, eight months ago, large layoff starts coming from lots of tech firms and so forth. And now, you see people staying put a little longer.

Chris Healy: Yeah. Let me propose this to you, because I'm doing some research right now on the great resignation in my rural area over here, in our five counties. And we dug up information that is probably not abnormal to the rest of the country, with people jumping for money, but what's really the root cause of this? Were they not being treated well? If I was treated super well, super well, I would take less pay, because I know that all employers don't know how to treat you well. Go back to 1968 when Frederick Herzberg came out with his model of motivation, and he talked about the hygiene factors and the motivators. What's at play here mostly is those motivators.

You wrap that around Maslow's theory of his bottom rung of the physiological needs. If the pay is not enough to pay to take care of your food and shelter and that kind of thing, then you're going to move on. You have to meet that minimum threshold. So you don't have to go way up here with the pay. It's all those other things that the top three rungs and the motivator factors of Herzberg, that really keep people with your organization. It's those things. They want to feel valued, they want to feel purpose, they want to feel loved. So it's not new. This was the 1960s, when they came out with this model, so it's not new. It's just another set point. I'm such a nerd.

Aly Sharp: I was going to say, I feel like I'm in class right now. I wish that I could just listen to you talk all day.

Chris Healy: I'm just a nerd. These are the things I think about. I'm like, "oh, let's think about this." What a nerd.

Aly Sharp: That was some really great insight, Chris. Thank you so much.

Chris Healy: Oh, you're welcome.

Aly Sharp: As you know, SHRM is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and our theme is driving change in the world of work. So let me ask you, what do you consider the biggest accomplishment of your career or a moment when you drove change for the betterment of the workplace?

Chris Healy: There is so many. So my whole MO, my entire career, when I think about that, people ask me, "what's your biggest accomplishment?" I think if I had to sum this up, it was having an impact on people's lives, because every time I take a job, from the time that I was that new HR person and I really didn't know what I didn't know or any of that thing, it really was being about a champion of the people. I am a product of watching those layoffs happen, and job security is very important to me. And so is job satisfaction. And so, every time I've gone into an organization, I would go find out what the problems were, and then, at the same time, I'd help the employees to be the best they could be. So for instance, when I was with Blue Bunny making ice cream, I did that for 10 years, there was a threat of them closing that plant, from the time they opened it up. And whether it was real or perceived, I don't know.

I said to work going, "okay, we are not performing well. How can I fix that? At the same time, how do I help the employees to have that insurance policy?" And so, I put together pay for skill plans, and I put together training plans and invested a lot of money in these employees. They closed that plant here in my area in 2014, and it was a miraculous thing. I had managed, in tandem, no HR person does this alone, in tandem with the operations team, to develop those frontline employees to the point that most people's supervisors were not developed to that level. And they were semi-autonomous workers. These were production employees. Many of them had only the high school diploma. And so, having that impact on people that you invest in them, help them to see what they can be, help them be what they want to be, and move on, really, I think, is the biggest impact that I've had on people.

Vernon Williams: Chris, thank you so much for joining us for this episode. You were, by far, the perfect guest. I'm so glad you took the time to chat with us and sharing your stories and your talents with us. Thank you so much.

Chris Healy: Thank you for having me. It's my honor. Go SHRM.

Aly Sharp: And with that, we're going to bring this episode of Career Compass to a close. We'd like to thank SHRM and the SHRM Foundation for providing us with this platform, but more importantly, we'd like to thank you all for joining us. And hope you stay with us throughout this season, as we discuss more topics, like this one.

Vernon Williams: For more exclusive content, resources, and tools to help you succeed in your career, consider joining SHRM as a student member. You can visit us at to learn more about becoming a part of a community of over 300,000 HR and business leaders, who impact the lives of over 115 million employees worldwide.

Aly Sharp: If you like what you heard, follow and subscribe to Career Compass on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you have a topic you think we should cover or a guest we should hear from, we'd love to hear it. Email us at

Vernon Williams: Lastly, are you looking for more work or career-related podcast? Check out All Things Work and Honest HR at Thank you again for listening, and we'll catch on the next episode of Career Compass.