The role of the HR professional is becoming more important and commercial, with HR increasingly commanding a seat at the leadership table. Roles are becoming more complex and influential within all of the HR disciplines and clients are demanding more and more of their HR professionals.
We work with clients across all commercial business sectors from FMCG to financial services enabling us to offer candidates a plethora of interesting roles and opportunities within the HR space. This includes all disciplines from typical HR business partner roles to HR change / OD or talent management roles and organisations with huge global matrix scale to small agile start-ups. With an extensive network and deep knowledge of our clients we are able to pinpoint the nuances matching the right culture and environment as well as role content to meet our candidate’s needs.
If you are a commercial HR professional seeking your next role on either a permanent or interim basis, get in touch and we can support you finding the right role and organisation to meet your all of your desires.
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The “third sector” is a broad term for organisations belonging neither to the public sector (i.e., the state) nor to the private sector (profit-making private enterprise). You may have heard other terms used to describe these organisations such as the voluntary sector, non-governmental organisations or non-profit organisations.
I’ve always had a strong passion for recruiting into the third sector. My clients offer rewarding and socially engaging places to work. It’s a breath of fresh air to discuss with prospective candidates. At this point it’s an “easy sell”.
It’s not until you start talking about salary and bonuses that you can start to squirm in your seat, hoping against hope that the candidate is looking to move AND take a pay cut!
However, those times are changing….and if the Third can be a little savvier, and change their mindset on three key areas, they will be able to ensure they can attract top HR talent to their sector.
1. Flexible Working
There are a great number of candidates on the market who are looking for more for than just a salary. Many candidates are wanting to have discussions around agile or flexible working arrangements, and many are happy to take a small drop in their pay or move for the same money if they can work from a few days from home, work on a part time basis or have a flexible working arrangement that allows alternative start and finish times.
2. Diversify your Talent Pool
Everyone is talking about diversifying their workforce, and one of the simplest ways to do this is to focus on candidates from OUTSIDE the sector. You will be both widening your market for top HR talent that you hadn’t tapped into before and you will start to bring in a more diversified talent group. One that will have new ideas for the sector, may offer more commercial or different solutions and perhaps give you a more diversified culture and workforce.
I know its less risk to hire a HR Business Partner or Manager that understands the sector BUT let’s face it - if we do our due diligence on the candidates, run a tailored and comprehensive interview process and ensure we assess the relevant skills and experience then we will mitigate that risk significantly.
3. Millennials and Graduates
We need to be looking at Millennials or Graduates. When meeting and interviewing graduates looking to kick start their HR career, I find they are significantly more attracted to aligning with charitable work or doing their piece for society and are much less motivated by money. They want to work for “the cause” and for an organisation that understands what motivates them. They want to work for agile business’ that offer perks such as company days out, breakfast / lunches, break-out areas and who want to listen to their thoughts and allow them to implement new ideas or projects.
We can’t offer HR Manager roles to graduates but we can be open minded about hiring for HR roles that require less experience.
By focusing on attributes of the candidate and investing in onboarding and training a graduate you will see a higher level of engagement and longevity in your HR Team.
About Kara Feller:
I’m an experienced Recruitment Consultant specialising in attracting top HR talent for the third sector. I have a strong network of HR Professionals who can offer "value add", commercial HR solutions.
I am always looking at how my clients can attract and engage top HR talent and can offer solutions around the challenges of lower salaries, attracting commercial experience and innovation and engagement through to retention.
Get in touch - +44 (0)20 7422 9035 / email@example.com
After a few false starts it seems that summer has finally arrived. Spirits are lifted when the sun is shining and across the cities the few small patches of grass, open air lidos and rooftop bars can become so crowded they resemble a mosh pit at a concert, with people battling for the prime spots.
However, the sunny weather can bring additional challenges for businesses, and HR Teams in particular. A rise in absenteeism during the summer months is common which can impact productivity and put additional pressure on those who do make it to the office. Holiday season is now in full swing, and with parts of Europe effectively closing down for a month whilst people take time off, keeping people motivated when offices are emptier becomes more challenging.
Transport networks come under increased pressure in the hot weather with commuters facing delays and cancellations as networks struggle to cope with the heat. The risk of train lines buckling in the soaring temperatures result in speed restrictions and reduced services, with the knock-on effect being further overcrowding and increased risk of people being taken ill in sauna like conditions. Those with trains lucky enough to have air conditioning at least have a small respite but there are still trains, tubes and buses without air conditioning resulting in many people arriving at work hot, sweaty and irritable – hardly a state conducive with a productive working day!
FOMO (Fear of missing out) kicks in as people want to enjoy the weather – witness the packed pubs and restaurants at lunchtimes and after work as people surge to make the most of the soaring temperatures. People are less inclined to work extra hours which can impact productivity.
Finally, the UK is not a country geared up for extreme temperatures. Many offices are housed in old buildings that are either not equipped with proper air conditioning or have ineffective cooling systems resulting in uncomfortable working environments that sap energy and mean staff cannot work effectively.
Fortunately, the more forward-thinking organisations can take simple steps to alleviate some of these challenges, with HR driving these initiatives to ensure a retained and engaged workforce.
Strategies such as flexible start / finish times to allow employees to avoid peak travel times or agile / remote working options where people can avoid the hellish commute altogether can help to minimise the impact on productivity and ensure your workforce remains motivated. Some sectors have even introduced a shorter working week during the summer months, allowing workers to finish around 3pm on Friday. There is growing evidence to show such actions can improve productivity as people work harder to finish their tasks so they can leave on time and start their weekend early.
Relaxing the dress code for the more corporate environments to allow men to wear smart shorts rather suits on the hottest days will lead to a more comfortable and productive work force - although boob tubes and short shorts are obviously still not appropriate!
Clearly nothing will be able to completely remove the impact of soaring temperatures but at least the above can go some way to reducing the misery. While none of the above is rocket science, it is amazing how many companies are still reluctant to offer more flexible or agile working options, all the while wondering why staff engagement is low. Those in the know are the ones that grow!
Practice Head - HR & Talent Management
Our Scotland Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest salary data collated by our specialist Recruitment Teams covering:
Our England Regions Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest salary data collated by our specialist Recruitment Teams covering:
The War for Talent. The War for Skills. Candidate driven market. Terms that HR Professionals no doubt hear daily. Attracting, retaining and developing talent for your business is a constant challenge for HR Teams.
Our latest Market Insights report highlights Resourcing / Talent Management and Talent Acquisition as being skills that will continue to be in high demand in 2019, particularly as 70% of organisations expect to see skills shortages as a result of the UK leaving the EU. As skills gaps become ever more apparent, we are seeing a growing trend for businesses focusing their attentions on enhancing the skillset of their current staff to ensure they continue to scale and grow at an efficient pace.
Because of this we are witnessing increased demand for Talent Management and Learning specialists, as well as increasingly complex and commercial roles with broader accountability and responsibility. However, there is an unwillingness from clients to compromise when it comes to technical skills in an increasingly candidate led market, meaning talent requisitions are remaining open for longer periods or not being filled at all.
70% of HR Candidates we surveyed stated they are unsatisfied with their current salary and 62% of candidates indicated they are likely or very likely to change jobs in the next 12 months. So, what can HR do to attract those candidates looking for a move, as well as retain their existing talent?
61% of candidates we surveyed stated that company culture was one of the most important factors when considering a new role, and 74% stated that the culture was one of the things they valued most in their current organisation. Company culture can be hard to define but it’s important to do so to ensure you attract the right talent fit for your business. 47% of employers cited company culture as one of their biggest talent attraction / retention challenges over the next 12 months. Make use of online channels such as social media and dedicated careers sites to showcase your company culture to potential hires and involve existing employees in the process.
It comes up again and again, yet many companies are still not willing to offer their staff the option to work flexibly. 44% of candidates we surveyed cited flexible working opportunities as one of the most important factors when considering a new role, and 64% stated that it was one of the things they valued most about their current organisation. There is extensive research to show the benefits of offering flexible working – better work life balance / employees feel trusted and empowered / productivity increases / costs can be reduced by requiring smaller office spaces with more people working from home – yet many businesses seem reluctant to offer it, and ultimately, they will begin to lose out on top talent in the market.
Does your business offer a structured career path? Candidates coming into your business want to know what their long-term career could look like with your organisation. Attracting new talent to your company is important for bringing innovation and new energy into the business. However, investing in your current employees is just as important, if not more so. Increasing efforts to expand and develop the skills of your existing talent and providing them with long-term career progression can result in increased employee satisfaction, engagement and retention across your organisation.
Companies that can adapt and drive these strengths within their organisation will see themselves increasingly able to attract and retain top talent. But whilst these seem like simple solutions, the reality of being able to do all the above well is challenging for the HR functions yet critical to maintaining competitive advantage.
You can download a full copy of our 2019 Market Insights and Salary Guide here.
Our HR & Talent Management Market Insights Report & Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest insights on the market collated by our HR & Talent Management Recruitment Team, and from data collected from surveying our clients and candidates.
“And every new joiner gets either a giant beanbag or a personal trampette!” I was informed with breathless enthusiasm by a potential client’s PeoplePerson (one word). We were sitting in his ‘worksphere’ (which looked remarkably like an office to me) in an area of London which is almost Shoreditch and littered with digitally-flavoured firms of varying degrees of maturity. But I felt as though I had landed on another planet. Clearly one of us was an alien. But since neither of us were green or had more than four limbs, I was struggling to determine which of us it was. Uppermost in my mind, though, was the horrific prospect of being presented with a giant beanbag. Forget about the trampette. At my age, the act of lying down on a beanbag requires a significant degree of planning. And I no longer assume that what goes down must come up. So, one person’s stress-reducer becomes another (much older) person’s industrial accident waiting to happen.
So maybe it was simply an age thing and not the first skirmish in a species war. But are “age things” really that simple? In the worksphere (office), age issues often tend to cluster around the extremes, around those who are young and around those of us who have long ago ceased to be so. But such clustering invariably manufactures oversimplifications. Funnily enough, getting old takes time. And things change over time, gradually and often imperceptibly. In other words, it’s complicated. I can’t tell you on what day I became old – and I suspect that passionate PeoplePeople (one word) won’t notice on which day exactly they started their attempts to kick their trampette addictions.
Tracking imperceptible change is hard but essential. At the time of writing our firm is conducting detailed research into what our people, and potential people, value/would value in our worksphere. We’re hoping that this will equip us to design and implement an upgraded and enhanced benefits package in 2019. Just getting to the right questions is proving challenging. We’ve started with the easy bit; using some generally accepted definitions, our workforce comprises 23.5% Gen Z, 58% Millennials, a few Baby boomers – and me. So, if we just find out what Gen Z and Millennials value, we’ll be 81.5% of the way there. If only.
There is an inexhaustible body of research that suggests that Gen Z and Millennials don’t value the same things. That’s hardly surprising. Why should we expect a 38-year-old Millennial to value the same things as a 22-year-old Gen Z? We can even accept that the Gen Z often appear to value things that associate them with their grandparents – or even their great-grandparents - rather than with the millennial generation that has just preceded them. For example, the appeal of transparently structured and orderly career development to the Gen Z has been observed by a number of surveys. But what’s harder to come to terms with is a level of complexity that can seemingly morph into contradiction – apparently the same Gen Z’s who value structured career development are often the ones who don’t expect to stay in their first couple of jobs for much longer than a year.
As it stands, our research is going relatively well. We are beginning to discover the right questions, so in theory we’re getting nearer to collecting appropriate responses. As for identifying the right solutions… huh. What we have learnt is that the Gen Z’s display an extraordinarily diverse range of attitudes towards work – and an equally broad variety of expectations of it. But one thing our Gen Z’s appear to share is intensity. Whatever the range of their views, and their diversity, they are felt and expressed with passion and conviction. The downside to this is that passionate intensity and surveys don’t sit happily together. When everything is incredibly important – and everything is as important as everything else – surveys fall over. We only really started making progress with our research when we asked unforgivingly precise, detailed questions that required equally precise responses. And those responses had to be ranked in order of importance, with no room for “equally important”.
In all of this my sympathy goes out to our People Director (two words). She has the deeply unenviable task of unearthing the right questions, discovering perfectly clear answers and implementing amazingly popular solutions. As much as any new joiner, she deserves some stress-relieving equipment. How about a personal trapeze kit? A long, thin wire, one of those alarmingly wobbly poles and, if we can find the budget, a safety net. Designing a multi-generational benefits package that will please a worksphere of Gen Z’s and Millennials will require perfect balance, the ability not to put a foot wrong, and the thick, if not green, skin of a true alien. Good luck – I’m back off to my home planet.
It’s not just a fad – a diverse and inclusive workforce leads to better business performance, and should be driven by HR.
But does diversity matter? Along with the gender pay gap, it’s a topic that comes up again and again, but is it just a vanity parade for HR? In reality, a diverse workforce of different genders, ages, identities, ethnicities and world views can have a direct impact of the success of your company.
Let’s start with the legal bit. UK legislation forbids companies from discriminating against people by age, disability, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and more. Aside from being morally the right thing to do, if your company is found guilty of discrimination in the workplace, you could face some hefty fines and toxic PR.
It’s not just a fluffy ideal so your company can appear politically correct – there’s a direct correlation between diversity and financial performance.
A 2018 study by McKinsey found that the most ethnically and culturally diverse companies are 33% more likely to perform above the national average than those who aren’t. For companies who have a mix of genders, it’s 21%.
Companies who are genuinely committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce are more attractive to potential recruits. A study by Glassdoor found that 59% of hiring managers stated a lack of investment in D&I as a barrier to attracting the very best hires, and 20% said it’s among the most significant elements in their decision to join a new organisation.
Once your new recruits are through the door, an inclusive atmosphere will ensure they perform to their full potential. By valuing everyone as an individual you’ll create an environment where all staff feel comfortable, valued and better able to give their all. Presenteeism is already a big issue for UK businesses, costing the economy billions every year, so any step to reduce the effects will be highly beneficial.
Companies with diverse workforces are better at problem-solving and are also more innovative. A 2017 study published in the Harvard Business Review found that cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster than teams of cognitively similar people. A diversity of thoughts, ideas and ways of working means problems can be tackled from different angles.
As HR professionals, the power is in your hands to shape D&I in your company. The first step is, simply, to make it a priority. Creating and publicising a strategy that focuses on tackling short term issues, but with long term goals in mind, will demonstrate how much D&I is valued.
Make sure you bring the whole company with you. Surveying employees for their views will ensure you get an accurate reflection on the situation at your business, and give you a benchmark to record future results against. Set up a taskforce (which should itself be diverse, obviously) will drive the changes forward and ensure all departments within the business are heard. IBM did exactly this and tripled its number of female executives, as well as doubling the number of minority executives.
But it’s not a short-term fix. PwC started its journey to diversity in 2004, when just 11% of its partners were female. By focusing on diversity, establishing deep dive D&I analysis to inform purposeful governance and strategies, 26% of partners are now female, as are 44% of the Global Leadership Team. To implement this across a large and diverse group of companies, they ask member firms to adopt a ‘2+1’ approach – focus on the two common issues of ‘gender’ and ‘valuing’ differences, plus at least one further dimension of diversity that is important locally.
Diversity is so much more than a box-ticking exercise or legal obligation – it’s a must for all modern businesses to compete in a diverse world, vital to their long-term future and that of the economy as a whole. By embracing diversity and inclusion, you’ll develop a company culture that gives your employees, and therefore your business, the greatest chance of success.
Uncertainty, Buoyancy and More Uncertainty!
The end of 2016 saw a marked slow-down in demand for HR Roles. Hesitancy in the market in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote meant caution around hiring for roles, and a tentativeness around future business strategy. As we headed into 2017 and the initial shock of the vote eased, it became very much “business as usual” for companies and 2017 looked set to be a buoyant year for HR hiring. This was driven by an increase in requirements for more complex roles as businesses tried to ready themselves for the post-Brexit market, and ensure that they were in the best shape to deal with the macro-economic factors that could severely impact business success for the unprepared.
Notable skills in demand within HR were:
The first quarter of 2018 has seen a sluggish start for HR roles in the UK as businesses await the outcomes and agreements from the Brexit negotiations. One thing to note is an increase in demand for Talent Acquisition Managers as businesses seek to ensure they are well-positioned to hire talent in response to the shortly anticipated demand. Particularly as businesses feel that Brexit will trigger a shortage of talent in many areas leading to a highly competitive, candidate driven market.
Indicators suggest that the next few months will be interesting as we transition into unknown territory!
Nina Adair - Practice Lead, HR & Talent Management Recruitment
Katie Black joined McGregor Boyall’s HR and Talent Management Recruitment Practice in 2017,and is focused on hiring top HR talent across the Middle East and UK.
I will always look back fondly at the 5 years I spent hiring top HR talent into roles across the Middle East. If it wasn’t for a change in personal circumstances, I would still be enjoying Dubai’s sun, sea and sand… I mean, what’s not to love?! Having recently relocated back to the UK, many people ask me what it’s like to work in the Middle East, and what the potential challenges might be for someone exploring a career in HR. Personally, my time spent in Dubai was the best 5 years of my career, and I would recommend the opportunity for anyone looking to expand their cultural horizons and add another perspective to their HR career! It’s no secret however, that the economy in the Middle East is evolving, so this article will discuss the potential challenges of building a HR career in Dubai and its surrounds, as well as how to make the transition work in times of change.
Expo 2020 Dubai is on the horizon, a global event designed to celebrate human ingenuity by sharing knowledge, driving innovation, promoting progress and encouraging collaboration. With the expo drawing near, companies in the Middle East are exploring how to harness this movement and attract top talent to their region. From my experience, there is no doubt that the Middle East is hungry for professionals who can bring their expertise to the region. So now the question is: how can the Middle East competitively attract talent?
Historically, the Middle East offered tax-free packages with large expat benefits, including education and housing allowances – it’s these enticing offerings that helped their economy to attract talent to the region. Over more recent time however, more and more companies have been reducing these benefits, which together with the introduction of VAT in 2018, will likely add further expense to the cost of living, and put strain on the ability for the Middle East to attract top talent.
Adding further challenge, is the ease of mismatch between client and candidate expectations. In my experience, the Middle East’s HR market is fierce, and clients are being more demanding and specific in the terms of their requirements. Clients are seeking individuals with people and business focused degrees from top Western institutions, with strong and stable CVs within the top global organisations where they have also demonstrated exposure to Best Practice HR.
The other side of the challenge is that HR functions in the Middle East have been less advanced than those in the West, with the scope of the roles not seen as interesting or challenging as roles they can get elsewhere. The HR roles in the Middle East have tended to focus on tactical aspects as opposed to being strategic, thus presenting the challenge to simultaneously fulfil both candidate and client needs. Amidst the challenge however, great potential (and attraction!) lies in the Middle East as organisations themselves are evolving, and in doing so, creating the space for more senior HR leaders to make a tangible and commercial impact within business.
A Balancing Act
In addition to managing client-candidate expectations is the balancing act between retaining existing HR expats in the region versus attracting new HR talent. On the one hand, Middle Eastern organisations have preferred retaining HR expats because they possess regional experience and are accustomed to the local industry. On the other hand, there has been a shift in perspective, opening up positions to new HR talent looking to relocate to the Middle East. The catch for new HR talent has been a slightly lower reward package compared to their experienced counterparts, however the opportunity to relocate and add another dimension to their HR career is clear. This is an important consideration to have when relocating to the Middle East, as an imbalance between client and candidate remuneration packages can frustrate existing challenges.
A Bright Future
Candidates from industries including financial and professional services as well as management consultancies are few and far between in the Middle East. These sectors therefore look to attract high proportions of expats into their organisations and have the ability to offer the financial incentives to do so successfully, thus striking the balance between client and candidate expectations around remuneration. With that in mind, the Middle East remains an attractive market that offers great career opportunity at a time when the HR market is still transforming.
Overall, there are a number of challenges to attracting and retaining top HR talent in the Middle East, but with the market evolving and roles becoming more commercial, there are many opportunities for ambitious HR professionals to make an impact and expand their HR horizons, and despite a reduction in financial appeal, the Middle East remains a location for interesting and compelling HR work.
2016 was certainly a year of change in many aspects from politics and the economy to the departures of many core contributors to modern culture. From a HR perspective the ever changing environment presents constant challenges around hiring and staff retention. So what can we expect from 2017?
In our annual market insights surveys McGregor Boyall asked our clients and candidates for their views on the employment market, and what changes and challenges they anticipate for the year ahead. The UK’s decision to leave the EU in June followed by changes in the global political environment meant 2016 was an unsettled and nervous year in general for the market. However, in a snapshot survey taken by McGregor Boyall immediately after the vote, 65% of organisations stated the decision had had no impact on their immediate hiring plans.
Seven months on and 70% said that they had seen little or no impact of Brexit thus far, although they are anticipating challenges around a shortage of quality candidates in 2017. Having said that, candidates remain fairly resilient with 73% stating that Brexit has no bearing on their decision on whether or not to change roles.
With technological advancements at the top of the agenda for many organisations it is of no surprise that 78% of those surveyed stated technology skills are those most needed for businesses to meet their objectives over the next 12 months. Managerial and Leadership are the next highest anticipated skills requirements as organisations seek to restructure and set themselves up for future success, with the right leadership teams.
For candidates looking to move on from their current role, utilising a recruitment agency is still the most popular channel for sourcing that next career move, with LinkedIn following closely behind. Interestingly approaching an organisation directly or via their career website is ranked down in fourth place by candidate.
Work life balance is the most important factor when considering a move for the majority of candidates, and 55% of the companies surveyed felt that they offered good or excellent work life balance but a number still have work to do with the remaining 45% feeling their work-life balance is poor or average. Compensation is still featured but only sits as the third highest with 56% of candidates stating it was the most important factor for them to consider when thinking about a career change.
Flexible working and work-life balance is valued most highly by employees yet is ranked down in fourth place by employers, highlighting there is still a disparity between what companies see as key motivators for attracting top talent and what candidates say are the factors most likely to influence them when choosing a new role.
Career progression options are seen as less important to candidates yet conversely organisations consider career progression and new challenges (61% and 63% respectively) to be the most important thing in order to be able to retain top talent.
For HR Teams it looks like the challenges of 2016 are set to continue and businesses will need to work even harder to retain their top talent in a market that sees candidates changing roles on an increasingly regular basis. And with Article 50 yet to be triggered the real impact of Brexit is yet to be seen. Watch this space!
Brexit is certainly the hot topic of the moment. The immediate shock of the vote to leave, and subsequent crashing of the pound, has left many concerned about the economy and what impact the decision will have on their own roles and lifestyles.
With the true long-term impact of the vote yet to be seen, there were some initial knee-jerk announcements made by commercial businesses about possible downsizing and potential relocation of roles. This, coupled with the media warnings of a forthcoming long and enduring recession in light of the uncertainty in the market, meant many were left wondering how the UK would survive outside of the European Union.
In truth, no one really knows what the future will hold: this is a new situation for the UK, as well as the European as a whole. Already there are rumours that the actual exit could be delayed until late 2019 and reports on the performance of the economy have not been as bad as initially forecast; despite the construction sector seeing a downturn, the UK is still showing growth (albeit at a slower rate).
Longer term, tough times are still being forecast, but for the immediate future many companies seem to be holding fast and continuing with business as usual. The McGregor Boyall Brexit Report 2016 surveyed all sectors and found that 65% of respondents said the decision to leave the EU had not impacted their immediate hiring plans and 76% stated it was business as usual.
Only six per cent stated that they would need to relocate roles to Europe as a result of the leave vote. That being said, only ten per cent of organisations have a contingency plan in place to support their business through the exit, and for HR professionals this means there will be some really interesting implications for their roles in the future.
This could impact a number of areas:
These ever-changing times present interesting challenges and demands for the HR profession, meaning having astute and commercially-minded individuals will be essential to the success of a business. Ultimately the message is that the outlook is uncertain, and no one really knows what the future is going to look like, but in the meantime most organisations are working on the premise of business as usual.
For businesses, ascertaining success or failure will be about ensuring their organisations are as flexible and adaptable as possible in order to be able to react quickly as the changes start to take shape.
In 2007 the first generation iPhone was launched. It took two years for Samsung to respond with their own smart phone offering. Since then we have seen the rise of tablets, the launch of the smart watches and you can now pay for your shopping with your mobile phone. Now it seems there is always a new product being launched, but a piece of technology can be exciting and innovative one day and out of date the next. As consumers this is the world we now live in but the corporate world is struggling to keep up, often finding that processes and work can actually be prohibited by systems rather than enabled.
For a good 40+ years the business world remained fairly constant and largely leaps and bounds ahead of the consumer when it came to technology. Organisations were generally very structured and process driven with little change or innovation to contend with. As times have progressed and advancements in technologies have become more and more rapid, it has become more difficult, particularly for large scale businesses, to be nimble and agile enough to keep up with the changes, particularly because of the huge costs that are associated with upgrading company systems and technologies. Instead, add-ons to existing systems to “make do” and act as a band aid to technological issues are implemented as short term solutions. As a result many businesses have ended up with complex and unwieldy systems that are incredibly complex, inefficient and hard to unravel.
From an HR perspective technology is an important tool to enable employee engagement. Technology should be liberating not limiting, but so often businesses allow technology to drive what they do rather than enabling it. HR technology has traditionally operated in a bubble, when in fact it should have synergy with other company and financial systems to ensure consistency across the business, which in turn can drive productivity, create efficiencies and build an agile and profitable organisation.
HR Departments need to rethink their partnership with technology. Before implementing a new system does anyone ever say – “this is what we would like to achieve, so what are our options?” It is always good practice to go out and talk to people, get their feedback and learn from their experiences, but how many of us actually do? From a HR perspective a good IT system should empower managers to be able to access transactional information themselves, enabling HR to focus more on the strategic and value-add dimensions of the role. However, managers probably feel this should be the other way around – so how do you use technology to meet in the middle?
Another challenge for HR Teams to contend with regarding technology is this “culture of entitlement” that exists amongst the younger generation. In their personal lives, they have access to all the technology they could desire and they expect that at work as well. With business predominantly focused on their consumers first and foremost, budgets for technological advancements will often be allocated to this space first, with employees being a secondary priority. This means that employees have access to the latest technologies outside of work long before they do inside. Those businesses that have been able to implement technological improvements for both consumers and employees at the same time have been rewarded with a high level of employee engagement and an excellent brand image, making them highly desirable places to work. But these are few and far between.
The rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has provided employees with more choice, but the challenge then becomes ensuring a consistent employee experience that keeps up with these technology advances, whilst also ensuring cost efficiencies are maintained.
With business cycles traditionally operating on a monthly / quarterly / annual basis and the world of technology changing almost daily, one of the biggest challenges facing business today is creating a work place fit for the 21st Century.
The customer experience has emerged as the one of the most important measures for success for companies across all industries. With consumers now saturated by choice, businesses now have to focus on delivering superior customer experiences in order to differentiate themselves in the market. With every purchase made customers are now invited to review their experience, rate the product or leave feedback for the company.
With the advent of smart phones and social media a negative comment or review can be around the world in a few seconds. Yet the needs of those who are responsible for providing that superior customer experience, the employees, are often overlooked. Businesses are so focused on customer satisfaction, how often do they measure employee satisfaction? All investment in technology and the user experience are customer focused, yet even the most advanced organisations within the technology sector provide antiquated systems and processes for their employees to use.
Studies have shown that both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction jointly affect an organisation’s success. This represents a real opportunity for HR departments to be more strategic, as they are the custodians of the “employee experience”. How do you put your employees in the right frame of mind so as to get the best performances out of them?
HR should be about informing the organisation on what people are thinking and feeling with regards to their job and their environment, not just about providing numbers around headcount. In reality it all comes down to trust. If you don’t trust the people you have hired why did you hire them in the first place?
Yet HR so often start from a position of mistrust believing the employees are like “Reverse Superman” – people who are creative, thought provoking and high achieving outside of work i.e. “Superman” enter the work place and become “Clark Kent”, treated as though they leave their brains at the door, tied up in rules and policies. Creativity can’t be automated whereas processes and systems can. So businesses should invest in creativity and put trust in their employees. It is also about collaboration. Many organisations could transform their employee experience if each department collaborated more instead of sticking to individual silos, yet this is often met with resistance.
The issue is that HR Teams often don’t feel empowered to make any of these changes to allow such creativity. As an HR Leader you have performance objectives that look at headcount, because that is measurable and can be shown against the bottom line. You are unlikely to ever be targeted against objectives that look at employee engagement and satisfaction, even if you conduct surveys as part of your role. Businesses shy away from this because it’s hard to measure, yet they often have whole departments dedicated to measuring the satisfaction and engagement of their customers.
Perhaps it is time to apply some of the principles we apply to the customer experience to the employee experience. Should businesses start segmenting the work force the way they segment their customers in order to provide a tailored working experience? This might be something for the future but what about actually asking their employees how they would build their work place. The rise in popularity of company review sites like Glassdoor means that businesses can’t hide away from this for much longer.
Businesses have a framework for delivery that is 20th Century but the world has moved on and it is time for companies to redefine what they expect from their employees. The DNA of most organisations can prevent them from modernising, resulting in quality staff leaving for start-ups or companies that they perceive to be more innovative. It is time for organisations to embrace innovation and empower their employees so they can provide that all important customer experience.
It's not just about Millennials - it's about a multi-generational workforce
Workplaces have always had multiple generations working side by side – this is nothing new. However, with people now required to work for longer than ever before and with the next generation of workers coming through we are starting to see up to five generations in the workforce for the first time. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (otherwise known as Generation Y) and the soon to enter the workforce Generation Z or the Silent Generation, so called because of the amount of time spent on-line. This creates huge challenges for businesses, which need to consider how they adapt their environments to cater for multiple generations in the workplace, rather than obsessing about whether or not they have a “Strategy for Millennials.”
Two of these groups now make up the majority of the workforce, and it is on those we will focus our attention.
On the one hand you have Generation X – digital tourists, who are comfortable with texting or email but generally prefer to pick up the phone or go and chat to someone face to face. The need for real human interaction is still dominant. They are used to a working culture where productivity is often measured by the number of hours you are sat at your desk and ideas such as “flexible working” and “work-life balance” where non-existent.
Then there are the Millennials – digital natives, who are used to operating in a virtual world where everything is instant. They use their phones to send instant messages, take photos and update everyone on what they had for breakfast rather than actually speaking to each other. Show them a floppy disk and they think someone has 3D printed the “Save” icon. They expect to have two profiles (work / personal) but one device – a single tool for all their virtual interactions.
Millennials are likely to have come from an environment where both their parents worked and therefore place a greater premium on a work-life balance. For Generation X the novelty of the “24x7 always available” culture has worn off and we are now seeing more boundaries put in place to ensure people do take proper breaks where they really switch off from work. However, there is still a perception in businesses that it is only women who want flexible working whereas in reality this is not the case – in fact Millennials expect to be given the option to work flexibly. This is a real cultural shift for businesses and they are struggling to get it right.
There seems to be a disconnect between organisations who are either great at offering flexible working but lack the technology to fully support it, or companies that are great with technology but don’t offer the flexible working. Getting this balance right is a real challenge for HR Teams.
So how do you reinvent organisations for Millennials whilst also catering for the other generations? It comes down to creating the right employee experience through offering a choice. Businesses are finding they have to unlearn what they learnt in the 20th Century and that is a daunting task.
We now live in a society where people can sell their time and skills in the virtual world with relative ease. People no longer look for a career path; instead it is about building a portfolio of skills and experiences. Employees now have to be able to operate in the virtual and non virtual world – but while Gen X may lack the social skills to operate the digital world, so Millennials may end up lacking the social skills to operate in the real world. So the challenge for businesses is balancing both worlds whilst also creating an environment that caters for all generations. In the end it comes down to being able to offer people a choice in the way they work.
In a world where technology seems to advance every day, it goes without saying that the ‘digital age’ has had a huge impact on the way organisations hire and attract their talent. According to a 2014 Report by OFCOM, 61% of UK households now have a smart phone and 44% have a tablet meaning people now spend an extra two hours a day on media and communications. With so many social media platforms and digital products accessible to all, attracting potential employees and raising brand awareness in the market has never been easier. Or so it may seem...
Certainly the need to engage with these platforms and products is now a key part of any talent acquisition strategy and this is evidenced up by our recent survey where 92% of respondents said social media platforms were a key part of their talent attraction strategy. However, what impact is the increasing use of digital technology having on the talent acquisition process?
For large global organisations with established brands, digital media has given them a direct communication path to potential candidate pools, enabling initial touch points to be consistent and easy through clever use of apps and mobile friendly sites. This was highlighted by our research which showed 68% of respondents had redesigned their career sites over the last 12 months to provide an improved user experience for those showing interest in their organisation and applying for potential positions. However, if ensuring your career site is mobile and tablet friendly is resulting in increased candidate pools, how do you then drill down through the noise to find the best talent? This is where the human touch comes in.
Human interaction remains a core part of the talent acquisition process, from pro-actively identifying the right talent, to building relationships and engaging with individuals. This is especially apparent when looking for specialist roles and hard to fill skill-sets. Whilst social media has made it easier for organisations to reach a wider audience, there are no guarantees it will produce candidates with the right skills in markets with candidate shortages. This is where the digital tools, need to be supplemented by a pro-active approach to finding talent, by utilising an in house recruitment function or a third party.
For smaller organisations, digital innovations and social media have been key to building brand and market awareness around their business. Increased connectivity means that they are able to cleverly use social media to attract individuals to the business, utilising social networking tools and encouraging existing employees to be highly engaged and build positive online presences and profiles.
The downside of such connectivity means that competitors also have an easier route to passive candidates and potentially to the top talent in your own organisation, so engagement and retention becomes an even more important issue. It also means that brand wise, HR have to focus on driving positive media messages - one negative action by an employee can have massive repercussions, especially if it goes viral! When everything from internal employee memos to employee actions can be shared by the world in a matter of seconds, a strong social media policy and effective human communication is key.
What the above highlights is that whilst digital tools have had a massive impact on talent acquisition, having a blended talent acquisition strategy supplemented by the human element either in–house or by third parties who can proactively target the best available talent on the market is the best way forward.
Our HR & Talent Management Salary Guide 2017 provides the latest insights on the market provided by our HR & Talent Management team.
In today’s world two of the biggest investments a company has to make are in its people and its technology. With ever increasing globalisation of business and technological advancements becoming more and more integral into the life blood of an organisation, how companies adapt and utilise technology is increasingly important and can have a massive impact on the success of a business.
Is a digital strategy a key component to help form the human capital strategy of a business in the 21st century, or does it not feature at all on the HR agenda?
Our survey and resulting report aims to provide an answer to this question, and to look at what impact this information will have on the HR strategies of the future.