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Call Center Cactus Chat

Episode 17: Talent Acquisitions with Pac Biz’s Cathy Belen

Eric sits down with resident Pac Biz Talent Acquisition Manager Cathy Belen to talk about maintaining an employee-centered culture and putting mental health first.

Listen to the Podcast:


Eric: Alright, welcome back to the contact center practice chat podcast. I’m your host Eric Mulvin. We’re back with another episode, and I’m actually back out  in Dumaguete, Philippines. And I got a chance to interview one of our employees today, so we have Cathy Belen who’s our Talent Aquisition Manager. So welcome to our podcast.

Cathy: Thank you Eric. Thank you very much for having me I’m excited to be on your podcast. And I believe I’m the first one for the year, correct?

Eric: You are.

Cathy: Uhm

Eric: You’re the first employee, where ah and the first employee we’re gonna interviewed. We have Jake as our co-host, and ah you’re the first one. Ah, I’m excited to be introducing to our listeners, ah some of the really amazing people that helped run Pac-biz behind the scenes. Ah so yeah welcome to the show.

Cathy: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me, I’m really excited to be here with you  I’m honestly quite nervous, but I’m really happy to be doing this with you Eric,

Eric: Awesome.

Cathy: Such an honor.

Eric: Thanks for accepting. So once we introduce ourselves a little bit tell ah, tell the listers what ah what is it you do here in Pac-biz and yes (inaudible) and about your family.

Cathy: Ok, so just like what Eric said, my name is Cathy Belen. But I’m Mary Catherine Belen. So I am the Talent Acquisition Specialist here at Pac Biz Virtual Services. I joined the company since November of 2020. So I’m a pandemic hire, so to speak. So, I’ve been in this role ever since I joined the company. And it’s really quite exciting, how I joined the company Eric, because uhm I really don’t really know that Pac Biz existed but I knew the general manager Miss Pipin, and you know one time I met here in the local mall, and I was kidding her Miss Pin can you just get me, hire me. And she said oh no we can’t hire you. So I said okay, and then you know  probably 2 days before I joined the company, I saw the HR manager, who was my friend, and this is the story I kept sharing the new hires, that uhm the HR Manager here at Pac Biz is really an angel to me, because I was in a dark space so to speak, with my mental health, I had some mental health challenges,  and when I saw her. I really don’t know Pac Bz was looking for someone in the Talent Acquisition, so I said can you just hire me? Can you just hire me to be your PA or whatever.

Eric: (laughing)

Cathy: And then she said, really? You’d really want to join us? Because you know, we we can have a place for you. And so two days after that, I was here in the office. And I was just ready to go. And I never really thought that that day would turn into two years, and couple of months already. So it’s been a wonderful wonderful ride here at Pac Biz.

Eric: Cool. I didn’t, I never heard that story. I didn’t know how they process yourself.

Cathy: uhmm

Eric: That’s cool. (laughing) Yeah!

Cathy: (laughing) Yeah, Interesting.

Eric: Yeah for sure. And yeah you did come on at a really interesting time, cause we ah when the covid hit, we work with a lot of the people in the hospitality issue,

Cathy: Right.

Eric: And they got hit hard with covid. So we were not hiring people in fact we were laying people off,  and we were freezing work status for a lot of people.

Cathy: Correct, yeah.

Eric: So, it was pretty unique for us to be hiring someone out of this time, when you know things were so little not normal in the world.  I mean what was like starting a job with a new company.  That was, we work we work during ah anything in the office

Cathy: Uhm.

Eric: and then you have the like finding people and interview them. And I guess you probably didn’t  actually get to see them in person because you do it through zoom? I don’t remember. (laughing)

Cathy: Ah yeah. Interestingly when I started that day. We had an account called the if you can remember the local five.

Eric: uhm

Cathy: We were looking for a VA, at that time, so it was to a VA for local five and web developer for monsoon marketing. So that was the first thing I did that was the first task that was handed to me.

Eric: it’s a tough hires. (laughing

Cathy: Yeah definitely,

Eric: Even today.

Cathy: it is, it is definitely. So since no one was here, we did the interview over the phone, Which we called today as our initial interview. And then after that we did zoom. So it’s (inaudible) in zoom.  It’s quite unusual, but we had to adjust, because we were used to doing face to face, but in my case  since I was doing of seven days of freelance, just working from home prior to this job, so it was new to me, that I was talking to people again which I never did. For seven years I think, when I was doing freelance. So it was strange but it was extremely refreshing and it was great to see new people, meet new people,  but in my case cause I learned, I mean I knew most of the people in admin , it was so great to be seeing them working with them and you know just working with  empowering women, inspiring aspirational women so it was really it was great, it was eye-opening refreshing,  and I think I was just really ready to go at that time, and start a new career here at Pac biz.

Eric: Alright, so you got hired on and I know we were dealing with the affects of covid. You know like the people. Especially here in the Philippines they’re like lockdowns were way more  stricted, I think it really think of people, and I know we should do a lot of things, to help our staff out. And provide them support probably we could and I know were talking more about the show, before the show about motivated by nature,

Cathy: Right.

Eric: Which I never thought for a while. And so I guess we start that initiative, not long after you came on correct?

Cathy: Correct, yes.

Eric: So what was that like, cause you know what. You probably not expecting, like a call center, is toughest on.  Or at least thinking about mental health, and trying to help out the staff. So i guess first explain what motivated, motivated by nature was what was that program, and uhm will start with that.

Cathy: Ok, yeah. Uhm motivated by nature, was actually a program with initially it was really a contest, which we had back in January 2021. If I remember correctly. We were really encourage to to unplugged. So to speak just to get out from our work desk, come in with nature, be with nature. And we were task everyday, we were given a task to do. Let’s say, today it’s the letter A, so we need to find something in nature that starts with the letter A. So, I don’t know maybe, A for uhm just about anything in nature, uhm maybe air. Well although you cannot really see air but  you know something like that. So maybe smelling the fresh air, unplugging from your desk go out in nature so that’s what we did.

Eric: yeah, B take a picture of a banana tree

Cathy: B correct  yeah.

Eric: Beez.

Cathy: Beez. And so on. So that’s what we did. And in essence although it’s initially started out as a contest. I think essentially it made everyone stop and recharge so to speak because, you know when you’re working from home. You tend to have it this cabin fever. So with motivated by nature, everyone was really encourage to go out. Spent some time with nature, and ah you know commune with nature.  In a way i think it was physically, mentally and spiritually healing for all of us. Particularly in my case, because uhm you know, I’ve been quite open with my struggles of mental health, before i started with Pacbiz, and you know motivated by nature was really a great help for me, to take care of myself, take care of my mental health. And also because of motivated by nature I was also quite motivated to do my first half marathon. So I did that. And that was very exciting, and I think without motivated by nature, I won’t be able to do my first half marathon. (laughing)

Eric: And that’s because. I remember some story of our staff, if they were getting out, they started like uhm. Like getting a job because you get to explore these places you’ve got to leave your house

Cathy: Correct.

Eric: you’ve got to work around. You know go to parks, go to go out to nature. Go to the beach So yeah, it was really cool to see, especially cause we’re all again we’re all going the effects of that. Being locked in, you can tell that people are getting burned out.

Cathy: Correct yeah

Eric: It’s a good way of getting people back out again. So that was our first initiative. I mean ah just thinking about it through with you right now. There’s been a fewer things that we watch around mental health, Since you come on board just a little too short, years any better in Pac biz. Uhm i’m just thinking about what arev the other things, You remember what are the other thing, that we try to put in place over the last couple of years?

Cathy: Apart from motivating by nature, uhm i think we had some, ah talks by invited guests and the and the guidance counseling community in the local and in the schools I mean.  And I think of course it was in hidden motivated by nature, they also spoke to us about it. Just to you know, talk to us about things on to really take care of ourselves, self care. And just you know, just to cope with the covid situation better. Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, and now that covid is fading away, why is it the tough part. Everyone is having challenges. Ah the world just always getting crazier and crazier. And you know we’re we’re dealing with that trying to do our job, take care of our families. And so lately, I think we’ve been, like we’re looking, we’re we recently made a choice of our health insurance, based around  like the support they offer for mental health right?

Cathy: Yeah.

Eric: Would you like to talk about that?

Cathy: Uhm well. Ah I I don’t really have a lot when it comes to the to the services that’s being offered together with our health insurance, but what I can ah what i can share is we are trying to actually form like ah mental health support group for everyone. And what it is is that, we’re trying to cause you know with health insurance, what it usually covers is, of course your usual check-ups, dental, hospitalizations. But now, with covid situation, I think what’s great about the covid situation is that people with mental health struggles are being validated. I mean their feelings, how they feel, their struggles are being validated. And so, I think people are recognizing that mental health is really part of health. And it’s also something that you really really need to take care of. So nothing is really set final when it comes to the the mental health package that we have. But we are trying to look at uhm services that would offer, mental health first aid so to speak and uhm what is it include  it includes sessions therapy sessions, psychologist, and if they need a psychiatrist. It’s like when we’re talking about medications, there is also, something like that. Because although we have psychiatrists, and psychologist in the city, what happens is that we cannot book them right away. And more often, than not when  someone needs mental health first aid, or mental health first support they need it right away.

Eric: Yes.

Cathy: Like me, in my case, ah just very recently Eric, uhm I had a traumatic experience on New Year’s day. When I lost my you know my dear dog. So I really need help right away. And you cannot just book, an appointment to right away.  So that’s the sad part. It’s the challenging part. I mean ah, I’m not trying to throw shades at our psychiatrist here in the locality but what I’m trying to say is that we want to be able to have a program that’s available and accessible to everyone when they need it.

Eric: Yeah.

Cathy: Right away the help that they need.

Eric: Yes. That’s why, you know situations like that, I was hooked up last past year, that’s why we’re looking at that kind of stuff. I think you know it seems in the US anyways, they’re just coming around to this and I really hope that we can have leaders here in the Philippines because you know they just come to it. Philippines usually, I mean the US, Philippines usually a couple of years behind or even further. Yeah we’re trying to model that. Here’s how you can take care of your staff better. And I think we’re the perfect business for that too because we’re like we’re all about retention you know. You see behind us here, these past weekend we just got to celebrate our eight year anniversary of Pac biz.

Cathy: Yeah.

Eric: And I found out, i did not realize this, but by the end of this year, if we don’t loose a bunch of people  for whatever reason, I don’t know what would happen. Ah then we would have over fifty people celebrating their five year anniversary at Pac biz.

Cathy: uhm, yeah.

Eric: So, like for us, we wanna keep people around we don’t want someone to burned out. Because if they’re getting burned out, they’re gonna quit or poor performance on the job. Which we cannot gain possibly. And they have a tough time in their life, when they need the most of or typically that’s what businesses are letting these people go. Cause a lot of times companies, they don’t have the resources, or patience or whatever they just like there are so many people out there, let’s just put someone else in. So i think it’s pretty interesting you know that we’re enable to at least start with me on how can we do better. As a company, for our staff,

Cathy: Correct, yeah.

Eric: So.

Cathy: And I think Eric, uhm it it’s very much aligned with our focus, company focus. Which is to promote not just client growth but employee growth as well and I think with the employee growth uhm there’s also growth in the company. And when a company grows that means we are keeping the right people, retaining the right people making the right people happy as well. So, and you know I’m sure you very much agree with me, that the most precious resource of the company is the people. So we really really have to take care of them.

Eric: Yeah, people also, people organization, (laugh) there’s not a lot of business secret technology, behind the scenes. We don’t have a room full of AI computers actually doing the calls, they’re all people. (laugh)

Cathy: Correct.

Eric: So you have to take care of them. So, so that’s not true. Alright Cathy that’s the only time we have for part one of this uhm we’ve got a lot more conversation we will get into the culture index a lot deeper and ah the next episode here in part two. And so thank you for been in the show here, and thank you guys for listening and we will catch you in part two, look for us in two weeks we will have the rest of the conversation here with Cathy. We’re talking about hiring, and talent acquisition and getting the people’s personalities so that we could find the most amazing people, to join our Pac biz family. (music) (end)