Youth Employers – what do we want?

I’ve read a lot lately about millennials and Gen Y and what it is that they’re looking for in terms of employers. What it is that organisations can do, offer, provide to attract and retain this area of the employment population. But I’ve equally been thinking about it from the other perspective given I’m passionate about youth employment and the roles that everyone plays from Schools through tertiary training providers and organisations play in preparing youth for employment. I regularly attend Job & Careers Fests, WorkChoice Days, meet with Universities, host High Schools and the like in my efforts to bridge the gap as a representative of my views and that of my organisation and feel that an area we’re all missing is what the employers are looking for from the situation. Because 99% of the time a completed degree and an eye catching CV alone aren’t going to cut it.

 

So what do companies want from this largely technologically advanced, digitally savvy sector of the market? I’ve complied a wish list of sorts:

Experience: Those who take the initiative to work part time or during holidays undoubtedly have an edge. They’re already somewhat work savvy. They have likely had to stick to hours, deadlines and task requirements and many will have had to work as part of teams, communicate with others and ideally provide some level of customer service.

Resilience: The ability to spring back from adversity, take the knock, get back up and try again is essential. Being able to look at yourself and learn from situations, people and tasks – to rise from the ashes in the face of tough or difficult times.

Initiative / Nous: Understanding the reality/practicality of a situation outside of having knowledge of the theory, and being confident in suggesting improvements and solutions.

Curiosity: A thirst for knowledge; to continually grow, develop and learn in the present and into the future. Being confident in asking questions and developing an understanding of the business, departments and wider market.

Conscientiousness: An awareness of the world around them. Of colleagues, clients, the wider organisation and extending into the world around them. Collaborative and communicative, a team player.

Change Ready: Innovative, creative and forward in the generation of new ideas and ways of working. Comfortable with change and changing tack to adapt to our ever changing world.

 

Having these skill sets under their belts in conjunction with their learning’s will see millennials, Gen Y’s and the like well in their search for employment. Displaying an attitude or outlook that is clearly ready to get stuck in, help out where needed, and putting a hand up for all opportunities offered will definitely all be viewed positively by employers. Having engaged, enthusiastic employees who are innovative and willing to learn is the ultimate goal for organisations.

Millennials / Gen Y – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions….everyone else, what would you add to the list?

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.

#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”.

Following the Fashion Pack

It’s Fashion Week in NZ at present meaning Auckland city is abuzz with fashionista’s, designers, models and the rest, donning their up to the minute threads, partaking in shows, bubbles and commentary and generally entering the who’s who world of fashion. I don’t for a second claim to have any authority on fashion, however I like to have fun with it and every year take a keen interest in the way the city changes for this one week, the way all of a sudden it’s more vibrant and people are taking more care with their looks – and their attitudes, and it feels like something of a celebration. I’d love it to feel this way all the time as I love the diversity it seems to bring with it.

Another thing Fashion Week brings with it is coverage and commentary on my desk this morning arrived the “Viva Daily”, The NZ Herald’s guide to NZ Fashion Week, and one such advice article caught my attention: How To Talk the Talk at Fashion Week by Dan Ahwa, describing eight ways to sound like you know what you’re talking about in and around the shows. It’s funny, witty and in a lot of ways true though I wonder what the true fashionista would think of it?! It also got me wondering about buzz words, phrases and actions in HR.

Are you an HR person or department who’s following the pack? Are you ticking boxes, dotting i’s and crossing t’s because that’s what you’ve always done? Or because that’s what you’re being told to do or say? Are you working inside the square of what’s expected of an HR department keeping to the routine? Recruiting through newspaper ads and job boards, inducting through scores of policy and paperwork, completing bi-annual performance reviews that are time consuming and cumbersome, offering the same training and development courses as you have for the past five years or more? Because if you are I have a Fashion Week challenge for you. Stop. Stop what you’re doing, sit back, look at it objectively and honestly answer to yourself whether it’s really adding value. Because I’m not saying there isn’t value in all of these activities, but I am challenging you to be sure of it. If they’re not, scrap them. Change them up. Do something differently. And if they are adding value – could they be better? Simplified? Could you improve process through technology?

I notice people are braver in Fashion Week. They wear more colour, they pull out those pieces in their wardrobes they usually deem for “best”, they take more time with hair and make-up, coordinate the outfit, shoes and bag. They’re not afraid to try new things or wear items way outside of their comfort zones. So there’s my challenge to you HR folk, get out of your comfort zone. Try something new, try not doing something or try changing something up…what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work you can always try something else. But you just might find you like the new, simpler or more dynamic ways of working – and no doubt your teams and organisations will too. People love change when it’s done right and communicated appropriately, so bring them on the journey with you and encourage them to do the same.

Be one of the leaders of the brighter future for your organisation and blaze your own trail for other people to talk about. Don’t sit back following the fashion pack, get involved, and create your own fashion (HR) movement.

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.