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.

#WellnessWarrior

The hash tag in the headline is used across social media for those on a health kick and endorsing a healthy way of living, but it’s also used for those living with chronic illness or disease. The number of New Zealanders living with chronic illness is scarily high and on the rise according to figures from the Ministry of Health New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, 2006–2016, and I feel certain NZ won’t be alone in this phenomenon. Those who I do think could be feeling very alone are those dealing with chronic illness at work. Be it physical or mental, these are illness’ no one else can see, often described as invisible illnesses and being chronic, won’t be just a one off occurrence.

There is much written on this topic on line and in papers & magazines from the individual perspectives of those dealing with these situations; they describe  reactions from others towards them and their situations as ranging from disdain to disbelief and vague understanding to sincere sympathy. But even given how much information is out there and being written to raise awareness and understanding I think more often than not they simply exist without any acknowledgement. Most people living with chronic illness, especially those that can’t be seen prefer to do so in private for a whole host of reasons. They don’t want to be judged. They don’t want pity. They want to be able to join in conversations on normal topics without their viewpoints being taken the wrong way. And most of all they want to appear normal. Chronic illness or disease is often multifaceted, so not only will it recur, but there are so many moving parts to it in some cases that people feel unable or unwilling to explain the extent of their illness, using an umbrella approach or describing one part of the issue/s if at all.

So what can be done to help those living day in day out with chronic illness or disease? First and foremost as with everything in life be mindful; treat others as you would have them treat you, if you haven’t got anything positive to say don’t say anything at all and all those other wonderful mottos to live by our parents gave us. Just be aware that we don’t always know what other people are dealing with. And should they choose to confide in you be understanding, be sympathetic but don’t be patronising. And try to avoid offering helpful advice if you haven’t got any first-hand experience on what they’re going through. Suggesting trying yoga to someone in chronic pain or sympathising with how tired you are too to someone which chronic fatigue won’t help and are things they’ve probably heard a million times before. Instead ask them what, if anything, can be done to help them during the bad times, encourage them to let you know when they’re having particularly hard times so at the very least they’re not going through it alone.

There are many things that can be done in the workplace to help ease these situations, make the circumstances more manageable for people and to provide support. Many firms offer the likes of flexi working arrangements where days and hours of work can be negotiated; others offer on-site occupational health and safety in the form of nurses and or wellness advisors. Employee Assistance programmes can be useful too; both for those dealing with mental and physical illness as both can be a burden and talking it through with a professional can be immensely helpful. Above all creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture will go a long way to making people feel they can be honest about these situations in the workplace. In today’s fast paced, technology driven, innovative, ever changing world many would feel it a sign of weakness to admit to and be honest about an illness, so it’s important we all work to create environments where this is ok.

As individuals I think if we all took just five minutes to Google a couple of hash tags we would learn a whole lot about living and working with chronic illness, and that in turn would bring more awareness in general. Hopefully that would also bring about more conversation and create more accepting and inclusive workplaces whereby people feel they can bring their whole selves to work. Therein lays my challenge to you: three hash tags, one minute for each on your choice of social media…#chronicillness #spoonie #invisibleillness to increase your own awareness.

Another Google search quickly unveiled a number of support groups, both in real life and via social media for an immense range of chronic illnesses. Ensure if someone does come to you or let you know they are dealing with something that you take it and them seriously and that you respect them coming to you. They may or may not know what other support is available out there, so help them explore the options available to them.

Be well!

Where have all the Millennials Gone?

I’ve been posing the same questions to most of the Agency Recruiters I’ve met with over the past couple of months (they are many) and it goes along the lines of “Are you finding a skills gap in the post university, couple of years’ experience under their belt, mid-twenties (ish), talent market?” and “Is it industry specific or across the board?”. The answers…yes and across the board.

I found this somewhat relieving in the one sense. As whilst I’m recruiting in the media industry the breadth and depth of roles is vast from sales & marketing to creative, IT, editorial, accounting, events, call centre, production and machine operators to name a few. So it was nice to know it wasn’t just us. I’d kind of already worked this out given for most of the role we advertise we’re (thankfully!) inundated with quality candidates and haven’t had much trouble finding talent to fill the roles.

However, when it’s come to those roles that are not entry level, need qualifications and a certain level of skill set, the next step or two up the ladder from graduate, it feels like a ghost town with tumbleweed blowing through. Now this is something of an exaggeration and I realise that – we’ve hired some awesome people in this bracket, but they’re hard to find, tough to convince, know their worth and where they’re going – and rightly so. I’m not sure what we should be calling them so forgive the broader term millennial in the heading!

I’m blaming it on the all-important OE. Something of a Kiwi tradition and coming of age, not specific to New Zealanders, but an ongoing phenomenon of our society none the less. I’m also blaming it on the OE not being the same as it used to, and the group we’re seeing in this stage of their lives now being somewhat more on to it than those who’ve gone before in terms of what they’re getting out of the OE. What was once a one to two year stint in London where you took whatever job you could get because let’s face it, the job was necessary to fund the ongoing partying in the likes of the Church and the Walkabout, house parties where 14+ Kiwi’s and Aussies were all dossing down together and jaunts around Europe whenever and wherever the funds allowed. And they were undoubtedly fun, character building and an opportunity to make friends for life and create memories you probably won’t tell your grandchildren about; but they weren’t about career. As a result when returning home to NZ these people were there to fill the gaps they created when they left in the market, and as everyone was doing it there was a continuous churn in and out.

This generation though are doing it different. They’re going over to do the partying, see the world, build character, relationships and memories; but they’ve also got career in mind. They’re arriving in London and the likes with jobs lined up in specific, strategic industries and organisations to ensure it’s a career building and development/growth exercise as well. And it’s working. Smart. These people are coming home far more experienced than when they left; they’re getting international exposure to markets much bigger and in some cases more advanced than ours (some cases not!) and on return they are no longer at the level they were when they left. In most instances they’re considerably further ahead than that in terms of skill set, experience and salary level. And here’s where the gap in the market becomes evident.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. I commend this group on their foresight and career planning. Not just career planning, they’re life planning too – coming home able to buy houses in the Auckland market which is something out of reach now for so many, but that’s another story.

I wonder what effect Brexit will have on this phenomenon, if any? A couple of people I’ve spoken with have ventured that it may strengthen the somewhat dormant Commonwealth and see a resurgence there. Others have suggested with travel getting harder for those on British passports the OE’s won’t last as long. I wonder whether we should be doing more to grow and develop these people within NZ and our organisations? Will we revert to careers here with overseas travel as holidays as opposed to the extended terms of one and two years? As I say I don’t have the answers, but I’m looking for them, so I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, experiences…..and potential solutions!

#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”.

What’s the Point? Finding Your Purpose.

I’ve stolen the first half of the title for this blog from Jonathon Hagger, after reading his post “What’s the Point?” directly after I read David Cullen’s #NZLead tweet chat recap “Why do we work? Meaning in the Workplace”. Both struck a chord.

It’s no secret that work’s been pretty busy for me of late (always if I’m honest!), but the coming together of three of NZ’s biggest media players has definitely been a game changer and one that’s been incredibly exciting to be a part of. The values and purpose of the three individual organisations have changed somewhat, but also remain largely intact within the new, larger group company. We have a new shared sense of direction in our vision and mission as a group. But how has this worked for individuals? Sure, there have been changes and therefore the why has changed for some people and in the course of this I’ve had some very frank conversations with numerous talent within our organisations and asking them similar questions to those posed in the posted linked above has yielded some interesting outcomes, situations and realisations.

For some people their drive and their purpose is to affect greater change. They may not align and be in utmost harmony with the wider group at this point, but they see an opportunity to make a difference and are striving towards that – these are the people who think big, the disruptors, those that will change the face of workplaces in the world. Then there are those who do buy in to the company “way we do things round here” and are if not 100% behind the purpose of the company then they’re close to it. This is something of a seamless alignment in thinking and an ideal, most people would be striving to find in life.

The opposite end of the scale from the descriptions above are the actively disengaged, or aligned and those who are indifferent. A complete disharmony between employee and organisation is a dangerous situation to have in play as these people may be actively working against the organisational purpose and/or attempting to persuade others’ away from it. Those who are indifferent will do less damage internally and externally to the employer brand and culture, but from a productivity perspective are equally bad for business. Hopefully there aren’t too many of these in a business, but if so it’s in these instances that organisations should be able and brave enough to have upfront conversations with people to help them find their point, purpose, why – whatever you choose to call it. Help them recognise where their strengths lie, where their skill sets are better suited, where they will feel happier and more fulfilled in their work. It may be that these people were once “on the bus” – but as technology, business, and the world around us changed they may be surprised to find that they no longer “fit” with the organisation they’re in. They may need help in recognising this, and in finding alternatives and seeking out their point or finding a new environment where their point aligns with company purpose.

If done well people will thank you for these difficult conversations. It may not be straight away, and it may take some considerable time before they’re ready to make a move or to try something new. But in the end it benefits both them, the original and the new organisation.

I’ve found through these processes too, that sometimes people may be unsure of their purpose, but realise in having a conversation with another that they do share the vision or direction of the organisation; so managers, HR and the like need to ensure they take the time to have open dialogue with talent within the organisation. Many times I’ve had people walk into my office feeling uncertain, or unclear, worried about change and the like, but having vented and received feedback, or a different perspective on the situation they’ve left feeling happy and clear in their future direction.

And to answer the questions???

My purpose is people. Communities within workplaces. Open conversations with real feedback. Finding meaning in work. Creating thriving workspaces. Showcasing, developing and attracting talent. Working smarter, utilising technology. Successful change. Growth & future. My purpose is people.

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!