‘Figure It Out From a People, Not a Policy, Perspective’

Meet ERE member Christie Engler, who opens up about the old vs new guard in talent, finding HR via God, and Fleetwood Mac.

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Oct 3, 2023

Welcome to the latest installment of our series in which we spotlight talent acquisition professionals within the ERE community. The series’ aim is to showcase individuals not so much for what they do but for who they are. In other words, the focus is less on what people are doing in their roles and more on how they view work and life.

Meet Christie Engler. Christie is a director of people operations and culture at Willory, a company that does staffing and consulting for HR and payroll. Additionally, Christie is an adjunct professor at The Ohio State University, as well as the new host of the HR Social Hour chats. With an extensive background in talent, Christie is a frequent contributor to the ERE Facebook Group, offering insights that stem from a philosophy of always putting people first in business.

I recently spoke to Christie about her views on talent, how she found her role in talent through God, and more.

ERE: What is your best personality trait?

Christie Engler: I’m open and welcoming and very relaxed with people, so it’s easy to get to know me. I’m a pretty natural extrovert.

What is your worst personality trait?

I don’t have a lot of patience, which as a caregiver to a child with special needs can be really trying. My No. 1 question for God is: Why me? I don’t feel like I have the right traits to be a caregiver to a special-needs kid.

What is the biggest assumption people tend to make about you — be it wrong or right?

Everyone assumes correctly that I’m a huge football fan. Buckeye for life! Which means that I can’t stand the state of Michigan, because they are our rivals. Also, if anybody assumes that I follow some of the old-school HR practices and thoughts, they’d be wrong. I’m not that HR lady.

What do you love most about working in talent?

I love helping people through their work because we all know that a lot of things about work suck. I enjoy doing even something simple like helping people find pay stubs or access benefits. For a lot of people, those things are big deals. It’s extremely gratifying to help people with even the simple stuff.

What do you like least about working in talent?

It’s the battle between old and new. There are still many practitioners who are so hell-bent on filling out forms and following policies from a black-and-white perspective and not thinking about people. That aggravates me to no end.

For instance, there was an online discussion about workers giving their PTO to fellow employees. So basically, it was a policy that was reliant on the kindness of coworkers. But that’s not how it should be. A company should be able to take care of its people. Still, there were lots of people coming at this from a stringent administrative point of view about the company not giving individuals more time off.

A lot of people in HR don’t have a backbone. I wish more would figure it out from a people perspective, not a policy perspective.

What is your greatest fear in the workplace?

That it won’t change significantly in my lifetime. I want employers to be more people-first.

What do you most value in team members?

Knowledge base. I want to know that people know their stuff.

What is the most overused or overrated thing that recruiting pros believe about themselves?

I’ve seen a number of TA pros try to transition into more traditional high-level HR roles based on the belief that they are qualified simply because they’ve worked in TA already. The reality is that if you’ve never processed an FMLA request, you are not ready for a high-level HR position.

How do you define success?

When I am living out what I believe to be God’s purpose for my life, and this is something that I feel you have to look for and ask for.

I had a moment where He put it down for me when he showed me HR, which is why I do what I do for work. It was when I was studying at Ohio State as a poli-sci major and had plans to go to law school. I also had a business minor, and as part of that, I took HR 101 and remember sitting in the room when it just hit me: This is really cool and this is what I’m supposed to be doing. So I got my master’s in HR instead. It was a moment.

How do you define failure?

Setting a goal and not hitting it. When the clock at the end of the game says four zeros and the score is not what you want it to be, there’s failure there. What you choose to do with it is something else. I like to look for learning opportunities and move on.

What’s your biggest failure?

That I haven’t been able to achieve some of my personal health goals for a variety of reasons. That’s been a big struggle in my life.

Name one TA person besides yourself who people need to know?

Keirsten Greggs. She’s fabulous. Everyone needs to know her because she puts out a lot of good content that is very valuable.

Most important question: What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.

Finish this sentence: Christie Engler is…