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Talent Groundhog Day – Creating human workplaces

I was delighted (and yes terrified) to have presented at the PRCA National Conference a few weeks ago at BAFTA. Great event, great content with an obvious but undeniably relevant theme of ‘Embracing Change.’

My aim was to provoke a little, and to bring the PR industry of 2018 along on a journey of workplace revolution, creating more human workplaces. Gallup says that 87% of the global workforce is disengaged so we MUST do things differently in future to win the war.

So, what is a ‘human workplace’ and how can we create one? Is there anyone in PR in a leadership position who HASN’T uttered these or similar words, ‘People are our key asset and we them first’? A human workplace is where 100% of staff would agree with you.

I believe are the 8 elements on the journey to a human workplace:

1.       Organisational structure

Structure is often used to suffocate an organisation. Information flow, broadcast top down means that insight and potential is repressed at bottom AND multiple levels of management/complexity foster distrust.

2.       Change Management

Your business must match the pace of global change in 2018. If an organisation stops evolving, it becomes linear, outdated and will stagnate. The best model of change management for a human workplace is ‘free-range change.’ Find engaged champions, co-create programmes with them then allow them to seed and spread ideas within the organisation.  

3.       Collaboration & Engagement

Collectively people are powerful. Because of the speed at which organisations need to adapt, future success depends on the power of collaboration.

4.       Wellbeing

The mental health epidemic is costing UK employers approx. £35 billion a year. The stats on male suicide and the incidence of mental ill health in children are chilling. To help shape thinking on organisational wellbeing programmes, consider the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’;

·         Notice; this refers to not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. Think mindfulness

·         Learn; never stop learning and growing

·         Connect; value of human relationships and positive interactions

·         Give; something ‘small’ like a smile to a stranger or formal volunteering

·         Exercise; need I say more? Good for body and mind 

5.       Diversity

Thinking of our talent shortage in terms of supply and demand, one way to increase supply is through a more diverse pipeline. A common objection I hear is ‘but the quality and quantity isn’t there in a diverse pipeline.’ I say;

1)      You have a problem with bias, confirmation bias specifically. People that aren’t like you show up differently, have different experiences and sound different.

2)      If you don’t like the pipeline, it’s your responsibility to help change and grow it. For inspiration I refer you to the excellent work of The Taylor Bennett Foundation and Elizabeth Bananuka.

6.       Recruitment

Few key thoughts here;

  • Recruiter’s business models don’t incentivise for alternative approaches or change. Amanda Fone at F1 Recruitment is a change agent however and works hard to influence clients to do things differently but it’s HARD!
  • Recruitment = marketing. Don’t wait till you have an empty slot to engage the right people.
  • Supply; as above, find talent in different places. Then be prepared to onboard and support them differently.

For creative agencies and clients facing the same talent obstacles, why not work together? Golin is supporting the Back2Businessship ‘return to work’ scheme again in 2019. Their client, Oracle is hosting and sponsoring this year’s programme (founded by Amanda Fone and R/GA’s Liz Nottingham).

7.       Reward & recognition

£s aren’t the way to recruit & retain in 2018. Conviction, community & purpose beat transaction every time. Globoforce says recognised employees 50% more likely to stay with the organisation.

8.       Development

Proper investment in training, establishing a learning culture, means you get more out of your team AND boost retention.

  • Theory-based learning is pointless, must be scenario-based, relevant and timely. Solve real-time business challenges
  • Great value in the cohort connecting and collaborating, building community. Helps people connect above and beyond the confines of a job description 
  • In a creative industry, we shouldn’t just develop, we should also INSPIRE. Expand people’s minds, expose them to lateral stimulus
  • Because of the speed of change, above and beyond annual KPIs, millennials need support building a long-term career path. Work collaboratively with them to plot this career path, coach, inspire them and see if you can’t build a joint future.

So, your mission should you choose to accept it is to explore these eight pillars and to build a human workplace of your own. Ask yourself often;

How can it be simpler?

How can it be better?

How can it be more human?

Each leader, each organisation and culture is different. Find your own way through. I want to leave with some inspiration from Chris Barez Brown, author and entrepreneur. He talks about ‘upping your Elvis,’ as those who have more energy and love what they do, get more done. Vive la révolution!