In just a few days, talent specialists from across EMEA will gather to learn and debate best practices in HR and the wider talent space.
HRD Summit 2019, here we come!
As anticipation sets in, we’re delighted to reflect on what we learned at last year’s summit.
In that spirit, we asked Luke O’Mahoney, one of our top solutions consultants and a hugely passionate talent enthusiast, to share his takeaways from the 2018 HRD summit. Enjoy!
The curtains have come down on HRD Summit 2018 and having spent a jam packed couple of days meeting, networking, learning, growing and exhibiting I now find time to take stock and get some of my thoughts and reflections down to share with you lovely people.
Historically when writing blog posts reflecting on events such as this one, I have opted for something of a linear and chronological breakdown of the talks I enjoyed.
This time, however, I want to keep things a little less descriptive and a little more holistic in order to articulate what the summit as a whole made me feel and the emotions evoked as a result.
I am happy to say that I feel a tremendous sense of optimism (and excitement) for the future of our organisations, and by wider implication, our society.
I was picked up and impassioned by the powerful personal story of Nilofer Merchant, who kicked off the summit with an enchanting and deeply personal account of her own struggles — losing her entire family and support network by revoking on cultural expectations. Nilofer refused an arranged marriage that would have forced her into a life in which she could not be the truest version of herself and become the educated, driven and empowered person she knew she was capable of becoming.
Nilofer made the link between this very personal struggle and what many organisations do to their people, force them into positions that do not match their true ability or their true potential based on predefined cultural and organisational expectations.
Organisations have a long history of recruiting based on job titles and track records rather than recruiting for people and potential. This is something that needs to change.
Whilst shocking and emotive, Nilofer’s story set the tone for the entire summit for me in a positive way: people should come first. If we want people to reach their greatest and truest potential within our organisations, we have to provide an environment, culture and network in which individuality and personal purpose is celebrated and encouraged.
This of course must be juxtaposed alongside the identification, articulation and celebration of a shared organisational purpose, acting as the ‘North Star’. Tim Sparkes brought this analogy to life in his excellent breakfast briefing on day two of the summit.
To realise true greatness in productivity, engagement and personal fulfillment, organisations must be brave enough to proudly display their North Star.
The North Star can unify existing employees under its glow, while attracting external individuals who share that purpose and want to experience a feeling of value. That feeling is the result of meaningful activity and contribution to a greater good.
As we heard in the equally powerful, if less emotive, keynote by Josh Bersin, 88% of millennials believe businesses can be a major force for positive social change. This is also reinforced when you consider that 62% of millennials would take a reduction in pay to work for an organisation whose purpose links to their own core values.
It is worth asserting a caveat here as I have used the now contemptuous generational labeling, ‘millennials’.
Look, as far as I am concerned I think everyone of any age, gender, background or generational banding ultimately wants the same thing: to feel valued, respected and connected to wider sense of purpose.
The way I see it, this has been true for thousands of years! That is why we see such passionate and often volatile behaviours displayed by otherwise subdued and ‘peaceful’ individuals of all ages, social classes, ethnicities etc. when unified under a shared identity.
Organisations (like football teams, religious groups and countries) can evoke the same level of passion (hopefully to amplify positive behavioural traits rather than negative ones) by unifying members with a shared sense of identity through a connection to a common purpose.
The organisational ‘North Star’ becomes the unifying symbol of shared identity under which its people will gather and go to extraordinary lengths to protect and progress its cause.
Perhaps there are some unnecessarily negative connotations to the analogies I have used, but hopefully the message is clear: the power of shared purpose should not be dismissed or underestimated.
To return more directly to the summit briefly, the other key themes discussed across the two days included automation, AI, flattening hierarchies and other new world of work trends.
My choice to reflect solely on the theme of purpose here is largely driven by my own passion for promoting the People First approach and my desire to contribute to the humanisation of the workplace and society as a whole.
One thing I firmly believe which was reinforced at the summit is that in order to be a truly people-oriented organisation, you need to keep this counterbalance equation in mind:
People First = Purpose First.
The former is not achievable without the later. A purpose-driven organisation with empowered and impassioned people will be a powerful force for change, that much is for sure.
As ‘curators of the new business landscape’, HR has a tremendous responsibility and duty to ensure that organisational purpose is both identified, articulated, and then championed as a force for good.
Thanks #HRD18 – it was a blast. See you next year!
Thank you, Luke, for painting a picture of the kind of energy and inspiration we can expect from the HRD Summit. For everyone who will be attending the HRD Summit in 2019, please stop by and visit the Hudson RPO booth at No. 90.
From free professional photos, to a selection of surprises and goodies, we look forward to offering you the red carpet treatment! It’ll be nothing short of the high-energy, custom talent experience you can expect from Hudson RPO.