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Making Work Personal

HR Insights from Talent Summit 2024

Last week, Aromic’s Head of People & Culture, Caroline McAniff attended Talent Summit 2024 in Dublin, which saw 1,800 HR pros discuss and tackle the latest in HR. Across the day’s keynotes and discussions, there was a recurring theme: work needs to be more personal. Caroline came back hugely energised about the future of the talent market and sat down with our Employer Branding Lead, Andrew Kilgallon to reflect on some of the big challenges and what being more personal means for HR leaders.

1. Personalising work for everyone

Fiona Mullan, CPO at Bloom & Wild kicked things off with AJ Thomas, CXO, Global People & Talent Leader, and Johnny Campbell, CEO at SocialTalent. They spotlighted the need for individualised employee experiences. From then on, “hyper-individualisation” became the word of the day. Obvious? Yes. Easy? Not so much. The diversity and complexity of global teams can make it tough to turn the vision into reality. What can be done?

Andrew:

We’ve seen a trend towards Talent Value Propositions (TVPs) as a more focused comms approach under the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). That’s a great start, but most organisations are not there yet. The goal is to get past generic programmes and personalise all elements of your candidate journey to speak to what everyone needs directly – from engineers to early careers.

When it comes to marketing, people get that each buyer has individual needs, wants and motivations. We’re only just seeing that carry over into the Talent and People world, which is exciting. Once People teams have insights and content for diverse talent groups, there’s massive potential to get better value from investments in ATS and HRS systems.

2: Engaging generation Z

Angela Cheng-Cimini (SVP Talent & CHRO at Harvard Business Publishing) talked about how Generation Z is reshaping the workplace with their need for transparency and instant feedback. Engaging this new generation is a stumbling block for many businesses.

Andrew:

Gen Z panics people. It’s in the same family as AI right now. Companies are desperate to connect, but aren’t sure, A) how much information and transparency this audience actually wants, and B) how far they can bend their communications to align with that need.

First, we need to think about the audience: understand their expectations, what they mean by transparency, but also the fundamentals of their comms preferences. Then it’s just a matter of showing up with that refined message where they live, in ways they relate to. Bridging this gap also means capturing candid feedback to ensure our programmes reflect and adapt to their values and needs as they change.

3: Cascading the EVP across touchpoints

Anne Keily, CPO at Aer Lingus stressed the importance of living out the EVP across all employee interactions, ensuring it permeates teams and employee touchpoints. Lots of organisations struggle with how to activate their EVP into the everyday.

Andrew:

Spot on. An EVP isn’t just a tagline; it’s about flipping it from a concept into a tangible experience. The best brands have a ‘red thread’ that runs through recruitment marketing, employer brand content, their ATS, hiring managers and line managers, through to internal comms. It’s about ensuring that the initial promise aligns with the day-to-day reality and the sentiment they felt initially is maintained.

Only a truly authentic employer brand can stand up to that kind of application. The goal is not to make the business sound as attractive as possible. It should represent the reality of working within that team, that office, that organisation.

4: Personalising benefits for greater impact

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman at Ogilvy UK brought to light the erosion of traditional employment perks, and how the employment contract is getting more transactional. He pointed towards the need for differentiation in benefits that goes beyond mere compensation.

Andrew:

Broad-brush benefits simply don’t connect. The future of benefits lies in personal relevance. People at different career stages and with different life circumstances will connect with benefits differently.

Matching competitors only puts you on an even playing field. We should understand and address the unique needs of the individuals in the workforce. That involves storytelling around benefits, using real employee experiences and User Generated Content (UGC) to illustrate their impact, moving away from presenting benefits as just checklist items.

5: Aligning talent with business goals

Angela Cheng-Cimini also spoke on the Workvivo podcast stage, and talked about the importance of aligning talent comms with the broader business direction, a goal often tripped-up by misalignment or unclear direction.

Andrew:

We see this all the time; EVPs built on an understanding of what talent wants, but lacking a connection to the business, its goals and mission. This alignment is crucial for ensuring that the EVP not only resonates with talent but also supports the business’s strategic goals.

Sometimes we see the EVP built off outdated values or mission statements. That means they aren’t fit for the talent of today – or tomorrow. At Atomic, our approach is a business-first EVP. That requires input from leadership to ensure the talent strategy not only attracts but drives the business forward.

6: Bridging generation and geography gaps

Beyond the keynote presentations, attendee HR leaders highlighted to Caroline the challenges of communicating effectively across diverse employee groups, geographically spread teams and ensuring HR’s messages don’t get lost or diluted.

Andrew:

We find that in large organisations, HQ sometimes doesn’t fully understand the texture of the organisation, levels of maturity per market, or the diversity of roles and people ‘on the ground’. When creating an EVP or employer brand, we speak to a cross-section of the organisation to gauge the reality of the workforce – who is engaged, who isn’t – and why. Understanding how your EVP connects to the C-suite versus managers versus graduates versus factory or field workers is important.

A level of localisation is needed to support cultural nuances. That can be through toolkits, editable documents and – within a framework – a level of empowerment locally. And for younger generations of managers, ‘snackable content’ and resources available Just in Time are key to overcoming the ‘noise’ in HR communications.

Wrapping Up

At Talent Summit 2024, it was clear that HR has its work cut out for it. Making work better means making work personal. We believe the secret sauce is listening, adapting, and being authentic. At Atomic, we get the struggles and can help HR leaders tackle them. Whether it’s making work feel more tailored to each person, connecting better with Gen Z, or making sure your company’s essence shines through, we’re here to help.

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