Youth Employment and the Future of Work, Part 2 – Collective Mentality

In my last blog Youth, Employment and the Future of Work, I discussed youth today, millennials, their outlook and their readiness for work now and into the future, and what companies, organisations and training institutes can do to steer and better prepare these groups for the workplace and future careers.

In this post I want to explore another phenomenon I came across in my increased and intensive time with youth of late, their collective mentality. On the whole I’ve found they think in terms of we and us instead of the me, I and my that I largely hear in in the Gen X bracket. It’s not just youth and millennials however; there are many indigenous communities the world over who live their lives collectively, communally from a social and work perspective. Here in New Zealand the indigenous Maori people are a prime example. They care about the wellbeing of the group as opposed to the individual and identify more with cooperation over competition, interdependence over independence. I note too, the massive rise and fall of labour unions, from the peak between 1940 – 1960 and the steady decline ever since. So is collective mentality and thinking in the workplace cyclical like so many other things in life or are we about to see a massive shift in the world of work?

In my HR career to date countless times I’ve had individuals (Gen X!) complaining of workloads, managers (also Gen X!) who say to collaborate and share the load – but has this ever really eventuated? In some cases yes, but in most it’s paying lip service to a problem and quietly ignoring it and the individuals struggle on regardless. Certainly more of a collective mentality in the workplace, more we and us, would improve workloads for many individuals especially as these seem to be increasing at an alarming pace of late. So is this a solution? Real collaboration? Caring about the wellbeing of all? A more tribal attitude when it comes to workplaces?

I note that conscious capitalism is on the rise, I wonder if this is being driven by the increased number of millennials and youth in employment. This was a hot topic at the Festival for the Future I attended recently; over 100 youth/millennials whose voice was loud and clear about wanting to make a difference, wanting more equality for all, shifting wealth and changing political policies to benefit the wider community.

I’m wondering what effect this is going to have on the future of work – especially given there are ever increasing examples of collective thinking being demonstrated in organisations and many of these are or have been start up organisations run by millennials, our future leaders and the future of work. I predict more collective working examples of individuals coming together and working across platforms, disciplines and geographical distances on projects and pieces of work. I predict more collaborative working spaces, where individuals and organisations share not only workspaces, but ideas, clients and development opportunities. I predict organisational structures changing as people work more within large corporates, but without the restrictions of specific job descriptions, in areas where they can specialise and utilise their expertise. I predict hearing the terms holocracy and meritocracy with much higher frequency. I predict more contracting and less permanent employment, ever more start-ups and small to medium sized organisations as technology changes and continues to evolve and develop. I predict more mergers of larger corporates as they compete on a global scale and not just in local markets.

I could go on and on with my predictions, but I’d love to hear what you think. Both about collective mentality in organisations, youth employment and the future of work.

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.

Personal Learning Networks 101 (#PLN)

What?

A #PLN is a group, real or virtual, of people with a common interest sharing ideas, findings, theorising, challenging and the like resulting in personal development. The #PLN you create around yourself will guide and steer your future personal development, and in turn you may contribute to the #PLN of others.

Why?

With the exponential growth in new technology, innovation, disruption in societies worldwide at the moment it doesn’t matter what industry you belong to or see yourself as a part of, the need to continually grow and develop has never been stronger. To keep ahead of the game, creating a #PLN will ensure you never stop learning.

Who?

Find the thought leaders in your chosen field of interest. Search them out, get opinions from others, follow their progress and validate who they are and what they stand for. Find those that align with your thinking, and are in line with the future direction you want to take.

Where?

Social Media is a near one stop shop. The obvious ones being twitter, facebook , google+ and LinkedIn. For more specialised areas of interest you may need to look a little further online, but there’s something for everyone.

Blogs are another great source of learning. Find people who’s thinking aligns with yours, then check out who’s liking and following their posts as there’s a high probability they’ll be like minded.

Looking further than social media and the comfort of your couch, MeetUps are a fantastic way to meet people in real life (#IRL) with similar interests to yourself. Head to www.meetup.com as a starting point.

How?

From a social media perspective, join groups, participate in conversations, follow hashtags. Get involved! And don’t be afraid to have a different viewpoint or question something as this often sparks debate, resulting in more learning for all. When you find someone you really connect with – check out who else they’re connected with as a great source of people to begin expanding your network.

In real life, be bold and be brave. Introduce yourself. Make the first move, not everyone is a natural networker, so most people will be grateful when you initiate the conversation, and remember you have a natural opener as you’re all there for your shared interest.

My #PLN

Next steps for me are to compile a snapshot of my #PLN centred around the People Professions…HR, People, Culture & Performance, Learning, Development , Recruitment and the like – so watch this space is that’s also up your alley!

You’ve Got Mail

I recently spent some time out of the office, and pre heading on annual leave tried to reduce the looming experience of a ridiculously overflowing inbox on my return by unsubscribing from the multitude of sites, newsletters and updates I’ve signed up to over the years. At the same time I read a “hack” on reducing the stress of your inbox, that included the likes of mail rules and auto-filling and quietly congratulated myself on how much easier my return to work would be, given I had full intentions of “switching off” for twelve days. It occurred to me at this point how obsessed and overwhelmed by email we have all become.

How many emails a day does your inbox average? How many inboxes do you have? I confess to three personal email addresses, two work ones that filter to the same inbox and a generic work one I hold responsibility for but others’ have access to. Six all up. No wonder I’m reading hacks on filtering email and the other blogs and posts I’ve read in the past on time management, claiming back your work day and the like, largely focused on reducing your email time.

I wonder too whether we’ve come to a point where we rely far too heavily on email as our main means of communication? Are we hiding behind it? Will we lose the art of conversation simply because it’s easier and more convenient to whip out an email than pick up the phone or walk across the office? And have we utter lost the ability to write a letter, falling into the less formal speak of email?

In thinking on all of this I came across some great articles such as this Four Influential People Who Ditched Email which detailed not only the people (who will surprise you), but also their reasoning, alternatives and tips for doing the same. Most featured around work lie balance and being more productive in your working day – gaining hours of time back. However, they almost all used alternatives and usually social media, the likes of facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. I’m somewhat sceptical of this also as surely they’ll take up as much time, but block out the junk, newsletters and the like?

I’m all about social media, so don’t get me wrong here, I love it for what it is. The virtues of which I’ve written about many times over due to the networking, learning & development, true friendships and the like I have benefited from on a global scale that I would never had achieved without it.

I haven’t tried forgoing email, and given my job I can’t see myself being able to any time soon, but I’m intrigued. For right now I’m thrilled with averaging 80 emails a day in the main inbox as opposed to the 200+ I was getting before with the hacks I’ve put in place. There seriously is a lot in sending certain mail direct to folders and unsubscribing from the 101 things you’ve signed up for. But what I’m interested to hear is who else has tried something like this? No email or other hacks – and what have you found works?

Here are some examples of the reading I did in all my thinking about this:

http://99u.com/articles/7274/how-i-gave-up-email-and-reclaimed-3-hours-a-day

http://www.chrisducker.com/7-email-hacks-productive/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/02/05/9-email-productivity-secrets-that-will-get-your-life-back/#40b56d94c5d5

#RHUBEdge

For anyone in the recruitment and related spheres in NZ who didn’t make it along to #RHUBEdge you missed out. Once again Phllip Tusing (@PhillipTusing) brought together an awesome line-up of speakers who engaged, taught, wow’d and sparked debate in the audience. The twitter feed was alive and kicking, even trending for the day so for those who couldn’t be there the learning’s (and some other less professional stuff!) were shared.

MC, Iain MacGibbon (@nzheadhunter) opened and kept us on track for the day, I’m sure it was a bit like herding cats at times, but he did a stellar job. The crew at AUT and the venue staff onsite were awesome – so big thanks to them, and of course to the JobAdder team for the beersies afterwards.

William Tincup (@williamtincup) took the stage first up; the programme announced he would “take delegates on a rollicking crystal gazing ride to predicting future scenarios and offer practical solutions gained from recruitment leaders around the world”. I think he delivered on this. I’m not sure how many will take his tips for time management to the 15min increments he does, but I have no doubts that those who do will get the day a week back he promises. His ideas and solutions for time hacks got us all thinking and gave us something to take away.

Brett Iredale (@BrettIredale) from JobAdder was all about technology and its impact on the world of recruiting. His two biggest tips were HiringSolved and VideoMyJob an app designed to create job ads. A list he gave of tech to check out included: SparkHire, enboarder, appear.in and Weirdly as well.

Jason Ennor of MYHR (@MYHR_NZ) ran us through what HR want from Recruiters; reading the buyer, pain points (and how to reduce the pain!) and track records. This is a whole other blog in the planning given the debate sparked throughout the day in in-house versus agency recruiting and the resulting relationships. Watch this space!

A panel discussion including Marisa Fong (formerly of Maddison), Carmen Bailey (of Emergent) and Garth Brooks (formerly OCG, now Bureau) gave access to a Q&A session from some of the best in the business with exponential experience between them – and again, lively debate!

Katy Anquetil (@KatyAnquetil) took one for the girls on “women in leadership” with some scary stats on the figures in NZ, breaking the glass ceiling, Tall Poppy and Queen Bee syndromes. George Brooks followed on In House versus Agency – as I say for another blog! James Gilbert (@jatgilbert) had some compelling stories on inbound marketing and the value of creating engaging content – essential in today’s customer driven environments. He also recommends checking out your website on https://website.grader.com/

All in all, as I say, an extremely well run day, with fantastic speakers – people at the top of their game we can all learn from. And another awesome opportunity for networking…probably more so for those of us not running home to rugrats being school holidays! Looking forward to the next one. Last words from William Tincup: “What gets measured gets done. And Process eats Software for Breakfast”.

Reflections

I’m noticing a lot of blogs popping up at the moment on being thankful, giving back, and reflecting on the year gone by. To use a cliché I think it’s “that time of year” when many of us pause for a moment to be thankful and reflect, check box goals, have a moment of clarity and/or be mindful. And I 100% prefer reading these sorts of uplifting blogs than the other ones doing the rounds of what not to do at the Christmas party and HR’s obligations or not (for the record I’m going to ours dressed as a wider group of Woodstock attendees – the clothed kind J).

My New Year’s resolution this year – and it’s the first one I’ve had in 10 years since I resolved to quit smoking – was to be kinder to myself. By this I meant not needing to be super woman; to go easy on myself when I don’t exercise as hard, fast or often as I’d like; to give up the working mum guilt; to do the best for right now and the situation; to take time out and to stop offering to organise everything for everyone. I’m actually not sure I achieved this – I think I may need to make this a goal for next year! As it’s been a massive year, fun, and successful, though very fast paced and jam-packed.

Perhaps as a goal I’ll achieve it. As the goals I set for this year I’m happy to say I’ve smashed out of the park, personally and professionally. I think sitting down at the beginning of the year and consciously thinking about goals, shaping them and desired outcomes then putting them into writing has kept me on track. I’ve aimed at keeping myself accountable and enlisted the help of my partner and got him on board for personal goals and a mentor for the professional ones. Both were brilliant at asking the right questions, offering advice and setting me back on course if/when I wandered somewhat.

I’m hugely grateful for the wonderful opportunities that have come my way this year, those I’ve taken up and those I’ve been unable to for one reason or another. 2015 hasn’t been without its challenges, both personally and professionally also, and it’s another cliché but it’s true – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Challenges broaden your experience and expertise, test your resilience and ability to cope under pressure, so recognise them for what they are and know you’ll be better for it when you come out the other side.

Which leads me to the “thank you’s”. Thanks to the family, friends, colleagues, mentor and networks who affected my life this year. I’ve laughed, cried, learnt, taught, expanded, tested, initiated, organised, played, danced and have affected and been affected by so many positive actions from others that have grown, shaped and developed me throughout the year. Thank you and with a big lovely glass of bubbles, Cheers to you!

BULA! Fiji!

Bula! Can you imagine, less than an hour into a five night Fiji trip as the +1 to my partner (work trip) and I encounter an HR conference! “Make a Difference” was the theme of the FHRI 2015 Convention, now I confess I didn’t receive anything new from what I did glean from the snippets of conference I saw, but what I learnt helping to host 70 clients and watching the staff interact with them one on one was invaluable.

I’m in a role where I believe I really partner with the business. I work within the Commercial team in a major media company in NZ. I have a background in sales, marketing and advertising allowing me to get involved and really understand the nature of the business and the people I work with/for. But here’s my questions – how often does HR:

  • Actually get to see staff in action in front of the client?
  • Have one on ones with staff away from the office environment whereby they’re relaxed and brutally honest with you?
  • Get direct access to clients who are more than willing to discuss the finer details of staff performance with you?

My answer?  Never – but all this information is gold from an HR perspective. What I learnt about the staff and the business in five nights in Fiji far outweighs any performance and development review or employee engagement survey information I could gather. And the best part is it’s useful and could directly affect positive change as a result. And I can’t help but thinking I got a much better lesson in L&D and more personal development from my time than those sitting in the conference I stumbled across.

Seven staff and seventy clients. It was a busy trip. Staff were able to bring their partners, but were expected to work, and partners were expected to help in the hosting of the clients. Activities planned for each day were optional for clients, and every evening the group came together for dinner and socialising in a range of venues, scenes and scenarios. The organisation was exceptional and detailed, and thankfully two travel agents were on board to manage the finer details leaving the staff to really focus on their clients – a fantastic lesson in customer service in itself.

But watching the staff in action with their different styles, personalities and ways of going about their job of hosting was such an eye opener. In some cases clients were better aligned to work with staff other than their account manager, in others there was a clear disconnect in the relationship, and thankfully the vast majority handled the situation and clients with aplomb. Any creases will be ironed out and managed appropriately going forward. The client feedback I received was exceptionally detailed – it’s amazing how people will open up on a small pacific island post a couple of cocktails! And invaluable to the managers and staff alike in terms of feedback. The staff too were equally open and candid about their current roles, managers, fellow employees and aspirations for the future – again, all valuable information.

I’m not suggesting you all send your staff and clients on an island getaway (though I’m sure they’d both appreciate it!), but do think about creating the sorts of circumstances and environments on a regular basis whereby you are able to achieve the same level of open communication and feedback, you’ll find it goes a long way.

UNCONFERENCE

unconference

ˈʌnkɒnf(ə)r(ə)ns/

noun

  1. a loosely structured conference emphasizing the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants, rather than following a conventionally structured programme of events.

“at this unconference, attendees created sessions on the spot, making for an energizing and freewheeling exchange”

So what is an unconference anyway? I hear this asked all the time, especially now I’m talking a lot about the upcoming #NZLead Unconference I’ve been helping to organise. As described above by Google it’s an unstructured exchange of information and ideas in a group as opposed to following an agenda or programme of events as at a traditional conference. It emphasizes free exchange between participants and can change direction and focus as the discussions develop and grow.

Unconferences are also referred to as Open Space conferences, simply meaning they are participant lead. Typically the agenda is set early on in the day, by the attendees; anyone who wants to can raise an initiative or discussion topic and have it added to the format (or un-format) of the day. Any format is permitted; one speaker, no speakers, a facilitator, no facilitator – though generally attendees are there as highly skilled or knowledgeable people on a subject matter, or as in #NZLead’s case people who are interested and want to learn more or weigh in on a certain subject matter.

There are opportunities in unconferences to lead a discussion, track or session or simply to go along and participate, either way the expectation is that you give, share and collaborate and others will do the same to ensure there are takeaways for all. This could be in the form of anything from increased knowledge, expanded ideas, new thinking and or new connections and networking opportunities.

What then is the #NZLead Unconference all about? Creating more Humane Workplaces and one of the other equally passionate volunteers on the team, Katy Lloyd put it especially well in her LinkedIn post:

“How do we create more “Humane Workplaces?”  So what does actually this mean? It’s about what we can do we make our workplaces more successful, enjoyable and inspiring places to be.

We all know people are important and are the key to success for an organization. The unconferences provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals that are interested in how we can the people practices of organisations and how we can do them better. This is not just HR folk – but anyone who knows that people are the heart of the workplace and thinks we can do things differently and much better! The more diverse range of backgrounds and opinions the better.”

Or there’s more detail on the #NZLead website: http://nzlead.com/the-re-birth-of-a-more-humane-workplace/

 If you’d like to know more we’re happy to chat, here is a list of the crew working to pull this together, we’re easy to find on twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn:

AUCKLAND

Kylie Telford

Katy Lloyd

Laura Trethewey

WELLINGTON

Richard Westney

Tash Pieterse

How do you get there? Tickets are great value at $99

Looking forward to connecting and collaborating!

 

Book Review: THE HUMAN WORKPLACE; People, Community, Technology. Amanda Sterling.

The culmination of a weekly tweet chat into a tangible resource for future learning is a credit to Amanda, her dedication and hard work in pulling it together  is exceptional and that’s not to mention the incredible breadth and depth of the international community she’s built up in the process. But back to the book. When Amanda first mentioned she was curating, compiling, writing and researching to pull together two years’ worth of the #NZLead chats into a book, I have to admit part of me thought she was mad (afterall she was originally planning to write as part of NaNoWriMo, which just seemed too huge), but another, larger part of me respected and admired her for it.

These tweet chats are real. They’re on-going, they get messy and way off track at times. There are some incredible lightbulb moments, a massive amount of learning, sharing of ideas and likeminded attitudes. But there are also challenges, at times debate and through all of this courtesy, camaraderie in many ways and a common desire to see a better world of work. Amanda has sewn all of this into her book. Using the real language of the tweet chats, and explaining the jargon, new concepts and the like in a manner that will ensure those inside and outside of people related roles will have no problem in following through the themes of the book. It’s as real as being in the conversation, yet structured in such a way as to lead the reader on a journey.

Overarching themes for me in the book are Culture, Collaboration, Leadership, Authenticity and Technology; all being at the essence of any “humane workplace”. And here are some quotes from the book that particularly resonated with me on these constructs:

“Leadership is not a one off event, a package or a methodology”

“Keeping people involves good old challenging, meaningful work, and a positive culture”

“Organisational Culture can become the most powerful piece in your recruitment arsenal”

“The kinds of organisations we need to create have to reflect the technology itself: open, collaborative, inclusive and connected”.

This book is a must read for anyone in the people professions; HR, OD, L&D, Recruitment and the like. In particular, those looking to develop and grow these roles into the future. You may be challenged, you may be nodding your head in agreement, you may encounter new ideas and concepts. And best of all if you’re not already involved you may feel encouraged to contribute to the #NZLead community now and into the future, for here is an on-going, evolving conversation for the better of future workplaces. And I use the term conversation loosely – as it’s my hope it’s more than that, not just a conversation but an action.

If there’s one takeaway I could possibly give you from the book and everything #NZLead has taught me it’s “Get Social”. For professional development, networking, conversations, collaboration, support, practices and learning, be brave, get out there – if you haven’t already you’ll be amazed at what’s waiting for you. If you’ve dipped in and skirted the edges, get involved; you won’t regret it. Search. Sort. Share.

To quote the book again “Information is no longer power: now it’s about networked intelligence” think on this for a moment in terms of my takeaway themes in the book: Culture, Collaboration, Authenticity, Leadership and Technology, then keeping these in mind, I leave you with this final thought “ The new workforce is a community, not a corporation”.

The Humane Workplace can be purchased here.

#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.