Youth, Employment and the Future of Work

I work for an employer committed to the employment of youth; not just in our organisation, but across the board, youth employment in New Zealand has never been in such a dire situation, in Auckland alone there are approx. 23,000 unemployed youth. On a personal level this is an area that I feel passionate about so it’s fantastic to work in an equally committed environment.

Over the past week I’ve been lucky enough to spend more time than usual in the presence of youth. High school students, University students and millennial professionals, entrepreneurs  and influencers; some searching for employment, others for a future career path and yet more seeking inspiration through mindfulness, leadership and social good through enterprise.

I spent a day at JobFest, a bi-annual initiative brought about by the Youth Employer Pledge in Auckland, supported by the likes of Youth Connections, ATEED, careersnz and the Ministry of Social Development. I then spent three days at Festival for the Future, a conference with speakers, stalls and a series of workshops aimed at celebrating what’s possible and change for the better; connecting young professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and activists – innovators and influencers to explore the big issues, share ideas and inspiring stories of people doing remarkable things to make a positive difference in the world around us.

In both cases I was pleasantly surprised and horribly shocked, and it made me realise while we’re making some fantastic inroads there’s a lot more we need to do to support youth in employment and future work opportunities. I was dismayed by the lack of awareness of the world and workplace in some, those whom I feel education to date has failed to properly equip for the outside world. I was in turn elated by those who’ve struggled and overcome serious odds to make something of themselves and their futures. I was concerned by the bitterness in some, and negative attitudes in some towards organisations (and in many cases with good reason!). And I was immensely impressed with the awareness, the understanding and drive to ensure conscious capitalism overrules, that collective good through work, for people, the planet and the future was such a prominent goal for so many.

Technology has undoubtedly had a massive impact on the youth of today compared with past generations. I technically sit on the very edge of being able to call myself a millennial, and yet my world as a youth and in my early twenties was vastly different from the world today. The internet means information is available to all; and these youths care. They want real content and they want to face and deal with real issues – and they’ve got some fantastic ideas on how to achieve this. However, the flip side is this technology isn’t available to all. And it’s glaringly obvious that there are two ends to this spectrum, and many place holders in between.

How do we as socially aware adults ensure we create environments for learning that better equip all youth for the future of work and employment? Technology is changing, the world around us is changing and the future of work is changing. There are jobs available now we hadn’t dreamed up only years ago and there are roles many of us thought were “roles for life” that no longer exist. Both JobFest and Festival for the Future and many other such examples aim at bridging the gaps that appear in many cases to widen daily.

There are many other start-ups and well established businesses and organisations also trying to make a difference. I met many such enterprises at both events. There are multiple companies I can think of in NZ at the moment aimed at bringing youth and employers together; from savvy job apps creating CVs for youth and enabling them to apply for roles through their mobile phones, receive instant notifications as to the status of the job and get real time feedback, to organisations creating training series’ of training programmes based on what employers need in new hires from basic skills such as resilience and time management to sales and presentation modules and new job platforms connecting youth and employers, enabling video interview and utilising technology in the talent attraction, recruitment and onboarding space.

But what more can we do? As I’ve said the future of work is changing, there are roles we can predict will evolve, be created and disappear, but equally there are others we won’t be able to dream up. Is the first step that we bridge the gap between formal education of schools, universities and the like and the skills that are needed in reality in the world of work? Should formal training facilities take this on or the employer? Do employers need to make more of internships, grad programmes and building relationships with training facilities to ensure we’re doing all we can to equip youth? Should organisations be tapping in to youth as the leaders of the future and with the ideas and answers to some of the current world issues? And how do we get more organisations on-board and actively participating in the importance of youth employment?

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m encouraged to see so much happening in relation to youth, employment and the future of work. IT’s a topic close to my heart as I’ve said, so I’m looking forward to diving deeper into it and reporting back my findings. In the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and examples of what your or your workplace are doing about the issues.

Sourcing Summit NZ 2015 – #sosunz

The line-up for this year’s #sosunz was awesome – as soon as I heard Katrina Collier (@WinngImpression) and Johnny Campbell (@socialtalent) were on board I wanted to be there! And they didn’t disappoint.

Johnny truly deserves the title “Sourcing Ninja”, and blew all our minds with his tips on how high performing recruiters work differently. He introduced us to the ICES model – Identify, Contact, Engage, Submit and demonstrated hacks that would make us all first class stalkers or PI’s if we were ever looking for a career change! He detailed the need for precision searches, the use of timing and multiple channels for engagement, emotional intelligence in recruiters and the essentials of building trust and a reputation online. If you haven’t already, check out sourcehub, for incredibly easy Boolean strings searches useable across multiple online locations/sources. Also, give CrystalKnows a try for incredibly accurate personality details about candidates pooled from their LinkedIn profiles and other online presences’ – scarily accurate in most cases!

Katrina was equally brilliant. She detailed the need to cut through the ever increasing noise in people’s lives to get your roles in front of the right candidates. To do this you need to be someone worth talking to, be easy to follow and most importantly become known, liked and trusted. Make it all about them, personalise your communication, research the role and the candidate and check your use of words (see NLP – nuero linguistic programming). Katrina also stressed it being the recruiters role to bring people into the company – so don’t be hamstrung by IT or Communications/Marketing.  Mobile and video are now and talent is everywhere – the future is reputation based and employee centric. Don’t do the things you’ve always done.

Gavin Buchanan (@gavinbuchanan) spoke a whole world of sense in relation to internal recruiters and got more than one “here here” for his straightforward approach in getting the basics right in sourcing on the global stage: contextual advertising, be clear on the value proposition and who the target is, be realistic about NZ and job boards work! It’s not rocket science; get the marketing, advertising, site and engagement right.

Amy Tea (@amyteanz) focused on phone hacks – a recurring theme throughout the conference, get  smart, get on the phone! Use the phone as a first reference check, as a way to build the black book of trusted networks, be prepared, be meaningful and follow up!

Another one to advocate job boards was Chris South (@findsouth), however he noted that top talent very rarely need to use them so consider consumer job marketing – think outside the square, try new things and spread across multiple channels! Think audience analysis, marketing channels, marketing content, landing pages, timing and budget.

The unconference sessions were equally fantastic on the day – I attended Rachel Kemp’s (@Rachiemouse) session where my biggest takeaway was to set up, manage and grow LinkedIn groups relevant to the talent you are sourcing.

Overall an awesome day – I left mind blown, with so many new ideas for sourcing talent, feeling invigorated and inspired! Another amazing effort from @philliptusing!

#HRLeadersSummit

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the HR Leaders Summit in Auckland this week, by the wonderful team at Drake NZ. Described as a high impact day addressing the changing face of HR, there were four speakers who were highlights on the day from me.

 Steve Tinghe, Business Futurist, opened with three key concepts for working back from the future – reimaging business and HR.

  1. Awareness of the emerging change.
  2. A broad and flexible sense of strategic identity. Senior Leaders need to take care to have a broader than internal sense of corporate identity, don’t become too introspective.
  3. A process for strategic design. In the information age we’re acquiring more data to make sense of the changing environment for competitive advantage; firms don’t need more information, just help applying and optimsing what they already have

He further discussed the need for strategy to be seen as a resource that needs time and energy and encompassing five key elements: Future, Creativity, Collaboration, Learning and Process.

The three words left with me after Diane Edwards, Ports of Auckland’s, address were Challenge, Culture and Courage. Entitled Change management and using HR to promote sustainable values, her session described the changes at PoA that enabled them to achieve a five year plan in only three years with some incredible profit and people results. Key strategies included:

  • Leadership courage; large scale restructuring, taking on the unions and chaining the culture.
  • Working together, reinventing relationships through communication, alignment, centralisation and integration. Show consideration and create partnerships.
  • Address poor behaviour head on; including the likes of zero tolerance on bullying and a focus on health and safety.
  • Breaking down hierarchies; such as getting exec’s out working on the wharf monthly.
  • Doing things better; competency frameworks challenging improvements and innovation, weekly WIps in place of annual PDRs and a customer focus on diversity of thinking.
  • Diversity and Progression; focus on moving women up, on progression through merit and job fit, aptitude testing and increasing flexible contracts.

Their results spoke for themselves, in turns of productivity and dividends returned to rate payers.

Kate Nuttal, Air NZ, though from a completely different perspective and starting point also told a pretty impressive story of the transformation Air NZ has been through in the past two years. Her five key takeaways were:

  1. Give people a sense of purpose, and connect to the vision. Small actions can make a big difference to the bottom line.
  2. Measure performance in a meaningful way and clearly differentiate high from low. Stop, start, continue mentality coupled with real conversations and staff development.
  3. Build great leaders and a robust talent framework. Leadership builds culture, creates engagement, promotes performance. Talent matrix hugely important.
  4. Truly collaborative with people (high performance engagement), connect with your people.
  5. Building employee capability in those areas that are a priority for the company. EG: sales capability – reward & recognition, sales cycle, capability model and collaboration.

The points Kate claimed made all of this work for Air NZ were: leadership by example, transparency, having difficult feedback conversations and coaching.

The final speaker also resonated strongly with me; Kylie Holton of Woods Bagot Australia on redesigning the workspace – a creative vision for the future. Kylie described building architecture and interior design in HR terms:

The main trends discussed were:

  • Culture & Brand; be original based on drivers of the business. Be authentic, show who you are and what you do.
  • Flexibility & Agility; re configuring spaces for project based work through furniture & infrastructure. Creating choices over when, where and how you work.
  • Model Shift; hierarchical to project based. Flexible furniture and walls (spaces that move and change).
  • Connection & Collaboration; people come into buildings for different reasons, and want to connect with the building differently, so creating scenarios for people to bump into each other. More break out spaces and virtual tools for engagement. Formal and informal work zones.
  • Innovation; spaces supporting productivity & innovation through freedom of choice and customisation.
  • Health & Wellbeing; natural light, planting and more sit/stand workstations.

It was interesting and incredibly positive to see so much alignment between our future working spaces, and evolving ways of working.

Something else interesting about this conference was that despite the references for leaders, HR and employees to all be more involved with social media, there was extremely little engagement with this during the conference. Chris South, Prominence, even encouraged it at the end of his session on Attracting the very best talent: The latest tips and tricks (which by the way was excellent and I got more tidbits that I missed from seeing him at IT18NZ), but to no avail. Hopefully attendees will take this on board, and hopefully those in Amanda Sterling, NZLeads’, session on HR in the Cloud – Changes and benefits of collaboration were encouraged also, so that next year we might see more sharing, conversations and networking as a result.

“It’s Conference, It’s Conference Time…”

Hopefully like me you’re singing that in your head to the tune of “It’s Business Time” from Flight of the Conchords from those who know it. I’m on holiday this week at the beach and I’ve had crazy lyrics in my head off day – clearly I’ve switched off from work somewhat! But there are something’s I’m focusing on and thinking about which lead me to ‘Conference Time’ as it seems to be that time of year again in the NZ HR world.

For me this year I have two lined up; IT18 on 21 April and The HR Game Changer 2015 on 11 & 12 of June, both in Auckland. Added to this I’ll be attending the #NZLead Unconference in October. Added to this are HRINZ’s HR Summit and the NZ HR Expo, HR Leaders summit and I’m sure there are others I’m missing, so if you’re in HR, Recruitment, L&D, ER or OD and related roles in NZ there a lot of offerings in terms of professional development and networking coming up.

#IT18 promises to be the only IT Recruitment and Talent Management Event in NZ focusing on attraction, recruitment and retention of IR professionals. Comprising of a career day whereby a free event aims to introduce professionals with employers for career and learning opportunities and the second day a conference boasting local and international experts on topics ranging from open source recruitment, through unconventional sourcing methods to culture, environment and engagement.

The #HRGC15 has spread its wings this year to cover Auckland, Melbourne, Wellington and London, building on last years’ themes and being structured into four parts over two days in each location; The WHY of HR, Leading a Future Workplace, Changing the Game and The Tools you Need. Again, a star studded host of speakers will be present from home and abroad including the acclaimed Simon Sinek and Perry Timms.

The #NZLead Unconference is scheduled for 14 October, and for those that attended or heard about it last year you will understand the unconference format, whereby the agenda is set by the attendees. This year the conference will also be pulled together from volunteers in the #NZLead community which is a concept I love and I look forward to seeing the results of. The theme for the Unconference is planned to be #Leading People, but who knows where the community will take it?

I know people often get cynical about conferences and the value of them, but I see them as a huge positive. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and grow, share and develop ideas, take on new concepts and ways of working, build my network and extended my capabilities. I’m looking forward to hearing from people at the top of their game, breaking new ground and paving the way for the future of work. There are people I’m hoping to meet ‘in real life’ who I currently only know via social media, others that I don’t get to catch up with often enough and I’m hoping for new connections with like-minded people.

I’ll be tweeting from all of these events and you can follow along via the hashtags #IT18, #HRGC15 or check out the websites at www.it18.co.nz and www.hrgamechangerconference.co.nz or better still it would be great to see you there – and if you are, please come and say hi!

For now it’s back to the beach as the surf’s looking good and I still haven’t got Flight of the Conchords out of my head…