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What’s the future for future talent?

Posted on by from Havas People

A series of events hosted by Havas People aims to take a fresh look at the talent issues facing organisations today. Each session features five industry experts who deliver insights and perspectives to an audience of HR professionals. Mary Appleton reports.

What talent issues are you facing?

The first of Havas People’s ‘talent bites’ events, held in April, focused on how to reach out to young people as potential employees.

Rajeeb Dey, founder and CEO of Enternships, emphasised that young people seek “autonomy, mastery and purpose” in their careers, and called on organisations to adopt a learning-based approach when selecting talent, equipping young people with the skills they want and need. “We need a new model which brings together online and offline learning, giving people the chance to enhance this with employer-led insights,” he said. He encouraged employers to consider placing useful open-source content online where everyone can access it, rather than only providing it when people have joined the organisation. 

A change in focus

James Eder, founder of graduate and student magazine Student Beans, shared his belief that “the education system is broken”, and called for more focus on developing people’s natural talents and strengths.

Following this, Teach First’s graduate recruitment manager Tanya Minsky told delegates that today’s graduates are looking for meaning and purpose from their careers. The next generation of leaders, she said, wants to address societal injustice and is no longer driven by money or a self-serving attitude.

While Teach First once based its marketing on what graduates would gain for themselves, it now focuses on closing educational inequality.

As Minsky pointed out, the results of a recent survey suggest that 95% of UK graduates feel that being challenged daily is important or very important – hinting that there’s a real appetite among young people to make a difference. She challenged delegates to address the question: “How will you create a broader narrative for graduates in their job and use that to set yourself apart from other employers?” 

Happiness before hard work

Next, Havas Worldwide’s planning director Andrew Quin explored ‘Generation Z’ – those born after 1996 and starting to enter the workplace. For Quin, this generation is characterised by the amount of time they have spent with their baby-boomer grandparents – driven by the rising childcare costs and increasing workloads experienced by their Generation X parents. As a result, Generation Z is considered a product of a clash between different parenting styles.

He outlined three predictions for Generation X at work:

  • Instead of chasing happiness as a product of hard work and success, Generation Z will look for happiness first. Finding happiness in things you do will encourage you to want to work harder.
  • Generation Z will ‘go it alone’, marking the birth of a new entrepreneurial era. Having learned that a job is not for life and seen high youth unemployment as well as low trust in businesses, they will create their own opportunities and start-up businesses.
  • Generation Z will ‘be the change’. There will be a rise in social entrepreneurialism as popularised by organisations combining ‘profit and purpose’. Already, 86% of young people believe it’s important that their work makes a positive impact on the world. 

Future talent includes older people

Gareth Edwards, managing director of Havas People, set the future talent agenda on its head by examining re-careering and the need for organisations to continue employing older workers. He suggested that over the next 10 years, 13.5 million UK job vacancies will open – yet just 7 million young people will leave school or college.

From an organisational perspective, employing older workers adds value by ensuring diversity and bringing real-world experience and decision-making ability. They might also be more efficient and have lower absence rates than their younger counterparts.

While 91% of millennials are looking to move jobs after three years, ROI is not an argument against recruiting older people, Edwards said. He issued a call to action for employers to be clearer about the benefits of re-careering and avoid focusing solely on the younger population when thinking about future talent. 

Building talent communities

In July’s edition of the event, the focus turned to talent communities and the benefits of connecting with them.

According to speaker Chris Le’cand-Harwood, head of social media at Havas People, all brands are publishers. He said that employers must think like an editorial team and develop written content to engage with candidates. This content, he argued, must be credible and transparent, and crafted to inform a target audience – appealing to the 70% of consumers who prefer articles to adverts.

For Le’cand-Harwood, an employer’s total content proposition should follow a ‘5-3-2 Dutch football formation’. This means that for every 10 articles, five should be about what others say about you; three about what you know and two about your opportunities. Thought leadership, he said, is the key to engaging your audience – and requires opening up a conversation with them rather than overloading them with one-directional messaging.

Lauren Stewart, associate director of PR and social media at Havas PR, continued this theme and stressed the importance of building a relationship with your audience – using social media to bring like-minded people together with content they love. She used Castello cheese and Vileda mops as examples of brands that used live Q&As, photo-sharing and competitions to build social communities. As a result, they were able to build a fan base, which became a group of empowered brand promoters.

Boosting employee referrals

Chris Skinner, recruitment marketing manager at Avanade, described how it used LinkedIn to drive employee engagement. The company – which provides business technology solutions – ran an internal campaign to encourage employees to optimise their LinkedIn profiles with company URLs, email addresses and messaging around the kind of skills it seeks. As a result, employees increased their networks and the campaign saw the employee referral rate jump from 20% to 27%.

Katrina Collier of Winning Impression, a social media recruitment and training agency, highlighted the importance of social media. She suggested that, as there are approximately 2.1 million LinkedIn groups, 150 million global Instagram users, 1.28 billion Facebook users, a billion Twitter accounts, 70 million Pinterest users, 540 million Google Plus users and a billion YouTube users, organisations must take the opportunity to utilise these channels. 

Building internal communities

Finally, Graeme Wright from Havas People focused on managing internal communities. For Wright, every good company thrives when ideas are tied together by a great workplace culture. And by empowering your workforce to speak on your behalf, you have a great vehicle for promoting your EVP.

Orange and Sephora were both examples of companies that had created a community of ‘ambassadors’ who were able to share their experiences and innovations, unmonitored by management – thereby being authentic.

According to Wright, when it comes to engagement, brands should be obsessed with cultural fit. “Don’t speak to – speak with,” he told delegates.

Mary Appleton

By Mary Appleton

Mary is Changeboard's editor in chief.

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