Ashley Furniture Saved ~$5 Million with Employee Retention: Featuring Humantelligence on We’re Only Human

“So you’re about to go into a meeting physically or remotely, you click on the team on the calendar invite and it’ll pull up the culture of that meeting. Imagine EQ everywhere, and you’re delivering emotional intelligence insights where every person can communicate, collaborate, and connect.” Juan Betancourt, Humantelligence

We’re Only Human — Episode 99 

One of the issues with the tools, the technology, and the processes we use in HR is that we sometimes get away from the human at the core of it all. This episode includes an incredible case study of how Ashley Furniture reduced turnover by approximately 30% and saved nearly $5 million in the process by focusing on the real drivers and values of each individual they hire onto their team.

In today’s discussion, Ben and Juan dig into how we can use more emotional intelligence insights in everyday interactions, creating more human and people-focused workplaces. From hiring decisions to team alignment, there are many different types of opportunities to support and enable better communication and connection.

Connect with Juan:

Learn more about Humantelligence:

How Do I Create an HR Department When My Company Doesn’t Have One [Reader Question]

One of the most popular features here is a series answering reader questions. If you have a question you’d like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT or record a short voice note here anonymously:

See other reader questions here. Today’s question is about starting an HR department when the company doesn’t have one yet.

Hey there! Hope all is well with you and your family! My name is Demee and I just finished watching your video on YouTube that you posted several years ago. I will give you some quick background on myself.

I was a Business Manager at a massage business for almost 2 years and decided to step down because I had a feeling that I was on a sinking ship–and it turns out that I was right! So I took a huge leap of faith and changed fields completely! I am now an Oral Surgery Assistant (I had no experience & they trained me) for an oral surgeon group with 9 locations. I’ve currently been at my position for almost 2 years now and I realize that there is no HR department so I see the need for this and want to start one.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I would have to convince my manager of this and he would then have to probably bring it up to the doctors. I have experience hiring/terminations, processing employee verifications, doing payroll, creating/editing the employee handbook (which we desperately need), and I used a payroll technology vendor in the past.

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How to Drive Business Innovation from Within HR on We’re Only Human

“Human resources is ripe for innovation right now. Innovation is definitely a place of great opportunity within human capital. We should be constantly looking out for how we can leverage what others have done in other areas and apply it to human resources functions.” Karin Wagner, Senior Director of Talent Transformation at UnitedHealth Group

We’re Only Human — Episode 98

If you’ve ever wondered why HR seems to struggle with innovation, you’re not alone.

  • For some companies, HR expects innovation to come from other departments.
  • For some companies, HR tries but fails to generate the innovation it needs.
  • But in some firms, HR leads the charge with innovation, creating new opportunities to drive the business and demonstrate the value of HR within the organization. 

In today’s discussion with Karin Wagner, Senior Director of Talent Transformation at UnitedHealth Group, Ben and Karin talk about how this process works and Karin opens her playbook on how to build relationship capital in authentic ways, what it takes to go from idea to execution, and more. Karin is incredibly insightful and you don’t want to miss her ideas in this special episode. 


To learn more about IBM Talent Transformation Services:

Connect with Karin on LinkedIn: 

What Software Skills do I Need to Work in HR? [Reader Question]

Occasionally I get a question from a reader, such as below. If you have a question you’d like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT or record a short voice note here anonymously:

See other reader questions here. Today’s question is about software, tools, and technology that HR pros should know about.

As I continue to try to attain entry level Human Resources employment I find it difficult to overcome the issue I keep running into being ‘overqualification’. To overcome this I decided in May to expand my current skillset and work towards software certifications that might increase the chances of getting a role as a Human Resource Analyst. My questions are:

What are some software certifications I could get that organizations would strongly desire their HR Professionals have?

What are some software packages you would recommend that may help stand out within the HR job market? I’m currently enrolled in Python Institute, Tableau Desktop and Alteryx Designer Core eLearning platforms to hopefully earn certifications in each by this July. Any additional online resources may also help.


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8 Tips for Becoming a Successful Engineer

A career in engineering can offer several fantastic job perks including high levels of job satisfaction, financial security, and an excellent job outlook. Engineering is also an extremely diverse and evolving field that provides a wide range of exciting job roles. Skilled engineers are in high demand and can choose to specialize in many fields including civil engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering, to name a few. For those reasons, increasing numbers of students are choosing to study engineering with the hopes of joining this dynamic field. 

If you’re considering pursuing a career in engineering, then here are eight tips to help you become a successful engineer. 

1. Explore different engineering sectors

As mentioned, engineering is a hugely diverse industry with a massive variety of job roles available. Many students choose to study a particular type of engineering, and complete formal training in that field. Alternatively, you can study a general engineering course and then specialize in a particular niche later on. It is essential that you explore the different engineering sectors in detail, and find an area that will suit your skillset and interests. Pursing a career that you are passionate about will give you a sense of value, and help you achieve high levels of job satisfaction. You can learn about the various fields of engineering by referring to career advice websites and reading articles and blogs online. 

Here are some of the most popular engineering jobs to consider:

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How Do I Support a Remote Work Culture? A Q&A Episode on We’re Only Human

“My company is going remote because of COVID. How do I transition our culture over?” 

We’re Only Human — Episode 97

In today’s episode, Ben takes three audience questions: 

  • How do we move to a remote work culture?
  • What payroll technology works for a smaller organization? 
  • How do I leave a toxic workplace? 

We are trying out this Q&A series and would love to hear your feedback! Let us know if you enjoy it or if you want to ask your own question. Just send it to or record a short voice question anonymously at

Quote for today’s episode by Kahlil Gibran: 

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

How Takeda Radically Transformed Its HR Operating Model on We’re Only Human

“I think you can’t make the mistake of designing an optimal, or academically perfect HR operating model in a vacuum. It really must be aligned with your fundamental business strategy and the overall operating model.” Lauren Duprey, Takeda Pharmaceuticals


This is the first in a fascinating new series of episodes where we interview talent and HR leaders from a select set of IBM Talent and Transformation clients about their innovative practices and approaches. 


We’re Only Human — Episode 96


What does it take to change the fundamental model for how HR operates in a business? In the case of Takeda, it took considerable time to settle on an approach that balanced global governance and accountability with localized, agile decision-making. The rollout of this HR transformation began in February of 2020.

Yes, right as COVID was beginning to hit.

Some would say that’s the worst time, but in hindsight it might have also turned out to be the best. In the turmoil that followed globally, Takeda’s HR team was set up to respond to business needs, adapt to change, and deliver service in a tailored and agile manner. 

In today’s discussion, Ben talks with Lauren Duprey and Dominique Brewer about the firm’s shift in operating models, deep focus on equity and inclusion, and more. This session is a master class on how to design an HR model that enables the talent team to support the critical objectives of the business. 


To learn more about IBM Talent Transformation Services:

To see the work Takeda is doing and understand more about the firm, visit