Meet Isabella Johnston, founder of Employers 4 Change. She’s an experienced entrepreneur with 25+ years of experience in Education, Organizational Development, training and learning, entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, mentoring, and leadership development, and team communication. With innovative growth solutions, Isabella helps clients solve people, processes, and training problems.
Called the “Intern Whisperer” by CEOs, leaders, and entrepreneurs, Employers 4 Change is a solution for employers of all sizes and HR managers that increases skills based recruitment and training.
They reduce employer bias with their AI algorithm to match a human. E4C is an end to end AI SaaS platform automating tedious tasks so people can spend more time to grow skills, accelerate multidimensional learning, and develop leaderships/mentor skills.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Isabella Johnston: My 26 years of experience and expertise is a blend of secondary education public classroom teacher, HigherEd adjunct instructor, Future of Work, Training/Learning, and Leadership/Peer & Reverse mentorship. Education degrees include a BA in English, MBA, and all but dissertation for a PhD in leadership with a specialization in human resource development which translates to learning. Most teachers have side gigs and I started Pivot Business Consulting. I help employers with scalable business plans, lean Business Model Canvas startup, Corporate Retreats, and Certified Coach with Asana Project Management platform.
I applied and was accepted into Starter Studio, an accelerator in Orlando with my Employers 4 Change idea to help employers recruit, assess, and track DEI cognitive skills using a SaaS platform. From there, I have been in multiple accelerators that helped me learn how to determine customer fit, scaling a product, and understand how to raise investor funds. We use Machine Learning to process and analyze data more quickly than ever before, machine learning enables rapid – even split-second – decision making for employers and potential intern talent.
Our platform is an HR DEI Skills solution that increases diversity and inclusive candidate selection for employers and intern candidates. Our lead generator strategy includes The Intern Whisperer Podcast and Intern Pursuit Game on Steam. These products are used to pull employers and students to our Employers 4 Change website in the top ways our prospects are consuming digital knowledge and recreation.
2021 and 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned?
Isabella Johnston: I believe 2021 and 2022 definitely revealed a lot about how people think about work/life balance, learned more about their own personal preferences about work, and identified new career paths and what can be automated. It also raises a lot of questions about ethics and why some jobs should not be replaced with robots, VR, or automations. For example, the food industry and supply chain.
We saw how hard it was for manufacturing and transportation industries were having a lot of problems getting food and products to stores. We saw how people began hoarding products like toilet paper and canned/bottled goods. Covid impacted migrants that worked in the fields, transportation globally and domestically struggled to meet consumer demands for necessities from fresh to frozen to packaged items.
This was a BIG lesson for industries, workers, and consumers globally. It accelerated how we can possibly solve these problems on a large scale and made people think about having home gardens, conservation, and social responsibility.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2023? What advice would you share?
Isabella Johnston: I believe business leaders should focus on planning 10 years out, ethics that result from our choices, and how to be more socially responsible and human centric in Future of Work plans that take in account employee engagement, retention, and employee/customer experiences.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Isabella Johnston: Employers 4 Change has a three-sided market. Employers who are our paying customers that want to work with intern talent. Schools that are partners and can drive student traffic to us, and students seeking internships and apprenticeships. Because so many schools resisted (and some still do) remote work options, that can limit student choices based on taking an internship for credit. Meaning if the school requires it be on the ground or hybrid.
Some schools are not having on the ground recruitment events which means less student applicants when recruiting online. For the most part, about 10% of a schools student population utilizes their career service departments and tell students to find an employer that provides internships or apprenticeships.
How my company has adapted is to build a brand ambassador campaign for students to spread the news on their campus, post on social channels, we have a link for students to share on their social feeds to encourage their friends to sign. Students will receive swag for sharing when students sign up. We also plan purchasing Google Ads to pull more students to sign up.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2023?
Isabella Johnston: Our team already works distance and remote which means we did not have to figure that part out. We also have team activities to keep our people connected with one another. We really enjoyed seeing new activities that increased employee and team engagement and helped us improve our processes. Advice that I want to pass on to others is to gamify engagement and keep meetings short so people can get back to their work.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2023?
Isabella Johnston: Since we are at the end of 2022 (November now), I believe these trends will continue to hold steady for online meetings, remote work, and internal company communications. The Great Resignation described the elevated rate at which U.S. workers resigned from their jobs starting in the spring of 2021, amid strong labor demand and low unemployment even as vaccinations eased the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, a record number of people have left their jobs since the start of the pandemic, and continue to trend in Q4 2022. PwC’s “Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey” found that globally one in five workers may quit their jobs in 2022.
In Q3 we say the rise of a new term as an alternative to resigning called “quiet quitting.” Driven by many of the same underlying factors as actual resignations, quiet quitting refers to opting out of tasks beyond one’s assigned duties and/or becoming. It’s about divorcing your ego from what you do for a living and not striving for perfection. This is very different from previous generations that hold strong work ethics. Baby Boomers, Gen X and some Millennials
Moving into 2023, the trends employee centric. Which means, that employees are holding cards like customers. The roles of HR and Marketing run parallel to each other with a heavy focus on the experience with the company whether it is employment or as a customer. The list of 20 trends hold true based on HR best practices, how the 5th and 6th industrial revolution is playing out, and employee feedback.
- Diversity, Equality, And Inclusion (DEI)
- Prioritize Social Media
- Four-Day Workweek
- Adopt A People-First Culture
- Practice Fair Chance Hiring
- Upskilling And Reskilling
- Adopt Remote Work Policies
- HR Meets VR
- Advancing From People Analytics To Data Literacy
- Offer Childcare Benefits
- Virtual Team Building Activities
- Digital Collaboration Platforms
- Digital Tracking
- Virtual Employee Engagement
- Automation Of Tasks
- Mental Health Support
- Mobile-Friendly Recruitment
- Hire Based On Soft Skills
- Culture Of Trust
- Race To Attract Great Talent
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Isabella Johnston: Too much – from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. 16 to 18 hours Startup founder life is demanding.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Isabella Johnston: Research supports that adults learn through storytelling, and if you think about that is how we teach our children and how our history recorded events and culture based on available technology distributions during historical timelines.
Best example how it is implemented in my business and with the team is through a town hall meeting with all employees, written in marketing messaging and by hiring consultants that can help us tell the story so it is memorable, relatable, and demonstrates social impact.
People want to work with companies that demonstrate their care about global problems and desire to bring solutions. We also want to let our people know we care about them personally and professionally.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Isabella Johnston: Remote work and how it will impact global, organizations, and personal cultural transformation as move further into the 5th and 6th Industrial Revolutions. I believe there will a negative impact on human interaction between employees, customers, and even in personal lives. Human are made for real relationship and learn through story telling, our senses, and engagement. As we continue to move into digital online, remote work, increasing automations, and distance relationships, I believe there will a negative impact on in person real connection between humans.
In 2023, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Isabella Johnston: Development of cognitive skills that focus on human connection and the ability to accelerate learning through multidimensional learning to make three months equal to a year of experience from intern to senior leader. My background and research is build around how and why people learn that changes behavior.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Isabella Johnston: Shared reply above. Company culture that is inclusive of employee goals for growth internally or that allows for employee to transition out of the company through peer and reverse mentoring culture. This ensures that a talent pipeline is in place and allows others to feel fulfilled.
People change, needs and wants change due to life changes which means that employee retention will probably ebb/flow also. Embracing that employee experience, life cycle and paying attention to where the employee is in their own generational growth will be more predictive and allow for stability.
Your employees should be represented through different generations, ability levels, include individuals with disabilities and international non-US citizens that may want to stay with your company. That means it is inclusive of how the world, nation, and company looks on the outside and how we think and feel on the inside. Inclusion and digital culture will play heavily in the employee life cycle.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Isabella Johnston: My superpower would be to serve others and help them develop a servant mindset that uses multidimensional learning to make the workplace organic and responsive to inclusion, diversity, and serving others. As Gracie Lou aka Sandra Bullock shared in Miss Congeniality, I really do want World Peace.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Isabella Johnston: Business level – global domination in the best possible way to help companies organizational superpower be their people through multidimensional learning that responds to market demand and supply internally and externally with customers.
Accelerating learning that keeps up with the pace of technology advancements and keeps human the parts that should be human. Connectivity and Relationship and Caring about others.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Isabella Johnston for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Isabella Johnston or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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