Presentation with Kokoro Robinson, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Velocity Global, June 2022

Kokoro Robinson is VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Velocity Global.

Kokoro has worked in talent acquisition for over two decades. He studied Biological and Cognitive Psychology at San Jose University, and is an author and philanthropist. He joined Velocity Global in 2021.

Velocity Global helps companies compliantly hire, manage, & pay anyone, anywhere in the world. ** In this presentation, Kokoro discusses:

  1. The Rise of the Owner-Employee
  2. How to design the modern workplace to retain employees
  3. Q&A

The Rise of the Owner-Employee

Kokoro proposes that the “owner-employee” is the latest evolution in the human search for agency.  Over the past 100 years, workers have been exposed to economic vulnerabilities from the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and the Great Recession of 2007-2009.  When the pandemic came about in 2019, we saw the Great Resignation.

Why did millions of people quit and look for new jobs?  Kokoro proposes the following reasons:

  • Lack of personal fulfillment
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Feeling undervalued
  • Little to no growth or personal development
  • Unrealistic workloads tied to labor shortages
  • People forced to leave jobs to care for children and the elderly
  • Unwillingness to commute or go into an office
  • Salary and benefits

By 2019, technology allowed for more communication and agency than ever before.  In recent years, which some call the Great Reimagination, new industries have sprung up, like Personal Development, a $43B global market in 2022.  The Alternative Healthcare industry is expected to become a $404B industry by 2028, and the Mindfulness industry is projected to be almost a $7 billion industry by 2030.  HR departments are bringing mindfulness and alternative healthcare into their employee value propositions.

The gig economy is expected to hit $455B by 2023.  Kokoro describes the new “owner-employee” as a “contemplative sidehustler”.  A Bankrate survey found that 50% of US workers have a side hustle.  A recent survey by Velocity Global asked participants if they expect to have a side gig in addition to their full-time job.  27% said definitely and 58% said possibly.  This means that Gen Z and Millennials being hired today will look for companies that give them the flexibility to run their own businesses in addition to their full-time job.  They no longer want to depend solely on a company to provide for them, especially considering the prevalence of economic recessions.  Employers who think this will affect their employees’ efficiency might consider a recent University of Iowa study which found that employees engaged in a side gig actually improve their performance at work. Today's worker has evolved to want life/work balance instead of work/life balance.  They want flexible schedules and the ability to work from anywhere on the planet, not just from their home office or local coffee shop.  Companies need a strategy to build a distributed workforce to accommodate employee needs.  You can open offices across the country and world, or you can partner with a company like Velocity Global, where that’s already done.

How to design the modern workplace to retain employees

The average retention rate for most companies is typically between a year and a half to three years.  Kokoro poses that, “If we want to keep them longer than that, we're going to have to begin to curate an experience for them from the day to day.” One way to enhance an employee value proposition is to add a work-from-anywhere policy, which Velocity Global provides.

Global, remote employees want co-living and co-working experiences like what’s offered by VRBO, Airbnb, Selena, Alto Vita.  Velocity Global partners with these types of companies to curate an experience that keeps employees engaged and retains them longer.


Stephanie: Did Velocity Global come up with the term “owner-employee,” or has it been used elsewhere?

Kokoro: Velocity Global has been using this term since I've been with the organization.  It’s an ethos and a philosophy that I’ve observed over my 26 years of experience in Silicon Valley, where it's hard to attract top talent. There’s a desire to bring in people with an ownership mentality and a side hustle, because of what they bring that to an organization.  Not only are they interested in doing in their job, but they have a mindset to take a look at or be interested in what's happening in sales, what's happening in marketing, finance, and what's happening in operations. So the owner-employee is a mindset that we use to hire employees at Velocity Global.

Stephanie: It makes so much sense that the top-tier employees would have a side hustle, considering around 50% of Americans have a side hustle.  This is especially relevant with Gen Z, who wants the ability to have their passion projects in addition to their full-time job.

Stephanie:: In what way do you partner with companies like Airbnb to curate employee experiences?

Kokoro: Partnering with Airbnb allows us to offer discounted rates to our employees, but it also gives them the option of doing a program we call “co-work world retreats,” which enables remote employees to meet up in various parts of the world for co-working.  In March, we were in Colombia for two weeks where we rented Airbnbs we stayed at a Selena.  We met with colleagues we had never met before in person because we're what we're at 100% remote company.  We got to interact with various teams on a deeper level and get to know each other better.

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