At Havas, we’re fortunate to be part of one of the world’s largest marketing and communications groups. Havas People is one part of that, and we ourselves are global, with colleagues spread around the world from Melbourne to Austin, and at many points in-between. By the very nature of a global crisis, we’re experiencing this pandemic together.
Recently I picked the brains of some colleagues in different regions about their take on ‘pandemic working’ and how their lifestyles are changing. Some cultural differences were apparent, such as existing attitudes to remote working in different regions, which range from it being extremely rare to the norm. Of course, we’re all at different points on this weird and uncertain journey. While things are just starting to reopen in my home state of Texas, colleagues in Singapore have been in and out of lockdown, and are now back under lockdown for the second time, and for the next few weeks.
We’re in the same storm, but we’re all in different boats. However, certain things seem to ring true across our regions. I asked my colleagues what has surprised them most. Below, I share some of their responses. If you’ll please allow me a moment of intense cheesiness: we might be going through this in different corners of the world, but in some ways we’ve never been closer.
You can see and hear more from our global team by following Havas People on Instagram, where you can check out #HavasAtHome, and our #QuarantineRoutines.
Eleni Konstantinou – Berlin, Germany
The most surprising aspect for me has been a little piece I like to call #coronacomms. And by that I don’t just mean corporate communications, but also the increase in communications with friends and family. My husband and I both live abroad. He’s from Iran, which is heavily impacted, and I’m from Greece, so catching up with loved ones has become a part of our daily routine. This includes the challenge of caring remotely for our parents – helping to set up online grocery orders and prescriptions while keeping up with the latest rules and regulations. All with a smile on our faces as we need to keep their spirits up!
It’s been interesting to see a sense of camaraderie evolving. Somehow distances no longer matter. People seem to be much more understanding and willing to support others.
Tim Middleton – New York, USA
It’s not a surprise to me, really. We already had a strong culture and great working relationships, but I think we’re expressing it in different ways now. There’s an appreciation for having one another. For experiencing something unknown together. Seeing people thrive, or adapt, or just maintain is inspiring. People’s resilience is wild!
That said, no matter what, losing a sense of close proximity is extremely difficult. Your synapses just don’t fire the same way having a conversation over Teams vs. doing it in person. But as long as we keep making it a priority to care about each other, I think we’ll come out of this with an even better appreciation of each other and how we fit together.
Charlotte Fenney – Manchester, UK
I think people are being nicer to each other! Whether on email or over the phone or video conference, there’s a very friendly attitude and an interest in each other as people – an appreciation of what people are coping with. I’ve had meaningful conversations with people who I haven’t spoken to properly in six months.
We’re pretty resilient in Manchester. Our sense of humor continues to shine through! And I do see people becoming more considerate and thinking of others. I’m a Trustee at Manchester Central Foodbank, and the generosity we are seeing right now is incredible. Let’s hope that continues once things return to normal.
April Bryce, Havas People North America
Creative and Strategy Director
A few weeks ago, in an article from The Atlantic Our Pandemic Summer, the author mentioned a friend who described how society is currently living due to the virus as the ‘now normal.’ In the context of our day-to-days and especially in the context of our work, this idea really strikes a chord.
As April and I were planning this webinar we decided it needed to be clear that working – whether that’s virtually or on the front lines – in this moment and time is anything but normal. For those of us working remote, we’re not actually remote working. We are pandemic working.
And there are a ton of us now working away from the office. According to MIT research, 34.1% of Americans who were commuting are now working remote. There are also massive numbers of workers who have been laid off or furloughed too. In only a short few months, the working landscape has changed an improbable amount.
This change means employers now have to reconsider who the audiences they are communicating with. There’s the veteran remote workforce whose routines are suddenly changed, but who may have answers to unforeseen challenges. The new remote workforce who are managing a new working environment with little preparation and all sorts of other important life things happening. Your furloughed workforce who are in a state of limbo and worried. Who lost their work community and need to still feel connected. And, last but not least, your pipeline who will matter again very soon and will be watching everything you do very closely.
All of those groups matter. What also matters is taking their very different realities in this ‘now normal’ into mind as you develop and communicate programs to keep your people engaged.
The Meaningful Brands report we run annually at Havas recently found that consumers look for an experience that is seamless, memorable, and personalized. It also found that anything less than this was considered an irritant.
It’s no different for your employees in this situation. In fact, understanding the difference in personal situations is probably even more key now. Some employers are doing truly brilliant things right now to keep people engaged and connected – eLearning, virtual workouts, virtual happy hours, virtual coffee breaks. A lot of activities that mimic the workplace. This is crucial to helping people navigate pandemic working. But, it’s key to remember that not all employees will be able to join or take advantage of those opportunities. That can be even more isolating.
One size will not fit all, so it’s key to listen to your people in order to build the most inclusive possible “now normal.” As you review and optimize your current employee engagement and outreach efforts, here are some of “the now rules” to consider:
LEAD FROM THE FRONT
Whether you are the CEO, chairing a call, or just writing a message to a colleague - make your optimism contagious. As Talent Leaders, continuously monitor engagement and stress levels to proactively respond.
Now is the time to overcommunicate. Update your employees even when there are no updates. Stay in regular, but brief touch across all departments, working groups, projects etc.
LOOK AFTER YOUR EMPLOYEES
Reset your expectations. Support continued learning but be flexible. Use ambassadors, mentors and buddies to add more moral and structural support.
LIVE YOUR VALUES
When in doubt, remember it’s your values that guide your culture and set behaviors. You’ll need to reset expectations, but your purpose still matters.
I’ll end this by saying, times may be uncertain and we may only have guesses as to what the future will bring, but what I can tell you for 100% certain – your people will remember the way you treat them now for a very, very long time.
Want to learn more? View our webinar here: https://usa.havaspeople.com/webinars.html
Tim Middleton, Agency Director
Havas People North America
Recently, there was a short article in the Wall Street Journal regarding the monitoring, tracking and data-mining companies are doing with their employees. It’s a natural response to be alarmed, but in my humble opinion this isn’t anything new. The tools to collect employee data and Large Company Corp’s ability to interpret that data have evolved, but the act of making sure your employees are using their time on the clock effectively, efficiently collaborating, and/or not breaking the law has been happening for a long time.
Stoking some nervousness around the potential police-state you’re working in makes for a great story and cute animation, but there is another way to interpret organizations having all this data that errs much more on the positive side. One that relates to our thoughts around the ‘Consumerization of the Employee Experience.’ The move by companies to treat their employees (and their data) with the same intent as brands do. Personalizing, customizing and aligning the working experience to the individual’s expectations (stated or unstated).
Interestingly, there was a recent post on the app, Fishbowl, about a similar situation where IT flagged to a manager that their newest hire was actively searching for jobs a month into their new role and on company time - the manager was looking for advice on how to broach this with their employee. Not surprisingly a large number of comments on this post were about the IT team’s actions (most employers make it quite clear that they are monitoring you and make you sign a contract in acknowledgement - IT is just doing their job). But there were also a handful of comments directed to the manager trying to understand what may have caused the employee’s unhappiness in their new role, asking why they wouldn’t use this information from IT to turn what might be a negative experience into a positive one.
That’s the key shift that employers, managers, leaders in companies need to make and need to prioritize. If we only use this new, rich employee data to contain, monitor and homogenize our people, we’re creating a terribly unbalanced relationship that fundamentally has no trust built into it.
However, if we use this data in ways to anticipate wants and needs, address nagging issues, build better processes and enhance experiences, we’re showing our people that they can trust us with their data, that we understand them on an individual, human level, and that we care about their experiences and well-being.
On Thursday, June 6th I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Wellbeing @ Work event in New York. It was an eye-opening day filled with exceptional speakers and interesting perspectives on wellbeing were shared.
Havas was invited to talk about Meaning in the Age of the Employee and how the consumerization of the employee experience is intrinsically linked to your people’s overall wellbeing.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll highlight some of our top-level thinking around that subject with some key thought starters worth mulling over!
Today, I want to share a few thoughts from the day that I keep coming back to. Things that were mentioned across a few of the different speakers’ topics that I believe are fundamental to employees feeling ‘their whole self’ at work and for employers to concentrate on when looking to build an environment where their employees’ wellness is a priority.
Homogenization isn’t just about looks.
As keynote speakers go, we were extremely fortunate to have Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia kick off the day. Claude shared personal anecdotes about her journey with VaynerMedia and the steps she took to forge a career that matched her principles and allowed her to lead and build in the way she wants.
A lot of great content and advice was shared, but I keep coming back to Claude’s point about a homogenized workforce. It’s natural for a company that was founded by a few friends to grow and employ friends of those friends – then friends of those friends, but as growth increases that friend network can become very harmful to company culture, morale, and ability to innovate.
Now, if we park the inevitability that these employees will all most likely resemble one another and look at some other issues of ‘going with who you know’ we can see that all of a sudden you have a workforce that has a relatively similar profile. They have all the same reference points, they approach opportunities and problems in the same manner, and probably view the purpose, meaning and value of work in a pretty uniform way.
For a current employee, is this environment going to give them the confidence or freedom to shake things up and try something new – to be who they are, not just another version of everyone else? For a candidate, are they going to feel like they can add anything to your company, or that they’ll need to compartmentalize elements of who they are to fit in?
Essentially, it’s another way to look at the move from hiring for cultural fit to cultural add, but I would say we need to go a step further and begin to start hiring for cultural miss. What types of people are you missing in your culture, what types of skills, approaches, ways of working and thinking will unlock your people’s potential further? Every new hire is an opportunity to add a little bit of a change agent to the mix to keep pushing your culture further.
Rethinking indicative proof points for future performance.
I’ll preface this by saying, I’m not sure how many of us are ready to ditch degree requirements from our job roles, but when Annette Alexander of WP Engine and Ann W. Marr of World Wide Technology spoke in their session about removing degree requirements from a large chunk of their jobs, it made me wish that we could!
This is something that’s been on my mind for quite a while. I’ve been talking with friends and colleagues and asking them if they could do it all over would they have gone to their alma maters and studied the same subjects, gone elsewhere to learn something else, or even skipped school and just gone into the workforce sooner. Very unscientific, but these conversations have been interesting. Very few people would have taken the same path they did. Most would have gone to different schools to study different topics, but a few (like me) would have been happy to just get right into the working world.
When I was looking for a job in advertising, the thought of getting an opportunity anywhere without a degree or some internship experience was crazy to me. But in the (relatively) short time I have had a career the whole landscape of advertising/media/content has shifted. Some high-school aged students have a better grasp on branding and forging meaningful connections with people than folks who’ve spent their lives doing that work.
And this is something we’re seeing across industries. There is this massive pool of self-starters out there who are being ushered into a 2-4 year holding pattern before corporations deem them worthy of contributing. This seems like a huge waste to me. Capturing their passion for work, for creating things, for building communities bigger than themselves shouldn’t be put on hold.
Every aspect of the working world is transforming today and will transform again completely in the next decade or so. If how we evaluate people, identify who can contribute, or even where we look for the next big hire doesn’t completely change too – we’re going to be training and hiring people to enter a workforce that no longer exists!
Walking the floor matters so much
Interestingly, this point was mentioned by a handful of speakers at the Wellbeing event – and it’s something I’ve certainly heard at other events and from some of my mentors over the years. Yet, it’s so important when creating a meaningful environment where your employees can feel healthy that it’s always worth mentioning again and clarifying what this is and what it should not be. As a leader, a colleague, a new joiner, or even someone who thinks they are the lowest rung on the ladder ‘walking the floor’ is one of the greatest things you can do. It’s about stepping outside of your work for a moment and appreciating your environment, your coworkers, and your place. It’s a moment to build camaraderie, to check in on a human level, and to celebrate, commiserate and experience all the wonderful emotions that come with being a human being!
It has nothing to do with making sure people are working, are at their desks, are getting their job done. We have other ways to measure and observe that. “Walking the floor” is the opportunity to foster community, to humanize yourself and your teams. To check in and show you care – and maybe get a little care back in return. It’s building that connection between others and yourself. A chance for everyone to show they’re not just automatons working away, but that we’re all people looking for a little extra love in a crazy world.
And this just isn’t about the people you are in the same physical location as. ‘Walking the floor’ with your remote workers is just as, if not more, important. Are you checking in with them in the same way? Are they able to virtually ‘walk the floor’ If needed in other locations or departments?
It only takes a few minutes to check-in with someone and wish them well – to show them you appreciate them. It’ll take much longer to invoke that appreciation if all you’re ever doing is asking them for work or work-related updates.
Agency Director, Havas People USA
Onboarding can be a tricky task – boiling down every bit of a person’s career into a consumable experience without overwhelming them is quite a thin line to balance. Even deciding where to start can be overwhelming for the *lucky* soul in charge of the onboarding process!
But onboarding doesn’t have to be a challenging mountain to climb, so long as you stick to the three bones of onboarding:
Your new hire is coming into your organization with a unique background and experiences, which will shape their experiences and interactions with your organization. Gather information about their background and how they may apply their experiences to understanding your organization. Once you do this, it will help you position the onboarding process in a way that’s specifically relevant to them.
2. “Just in Time”
Now that you’ve boiled down a person’s career into one L&D platform with 30 hours of compliance training loaded, compiled a 100 page PDF of resources, and set up 15 meetings with key stakeholders for new hires, you’re done right?
This is way too much information for anyone to absorb, much less apply. But it’s all critical information, so what do you do? You deliver the information when it can be utilized. This method of learning is shown to be more effective – applied knowledge is stored and remembered more easily than unapplied knowledge.
Getting your team involved in the onboarding process not only takes the pressure / onus off you, but it also creates a more immersive experience for your new hire. With the full team involved in their onboarding, the new hire will feel like they’re part of the team more organically and, ideally, faster.
This also helps the team empathize with the new hire’s experience, and allowing everyone to be accountable for the new hire’s success.
These three bones are the foundation to an effective onboarding process, but there’s much more that goes into fleshing these out to build an experience that is relevant to your people.
Interested in learning more? Contact us!
March was a particularly jam-packed month for us at Havas People, as a whole host of events dropped into our calendar across the globe. And with a multitude of events, comes the opportunity of gaining further, fresh insight into the changing world of work and technology.
Our team in the UK were delighted to experience UNLEASH for the first time, followed by the annual Changeboard Future Talent Conference, while our team in the US attended both Workhuman and HR Transform. Additionally, our Managing Partner Danni Brace flew out to Singapore to complete the final leg of the Havas NextGen course - a year-long leadership journey that brings together 50 of Havas’ high potential leaders from across the globe and challenges them to become more team-centric, strategic and future-focused.
So on reflection of our particularly busy end to Q1, we thought we’d pull together the top insights that got us inspired last month. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Using technology to embrace humanity
At this year’s Changeboard Future Talent Conference, speakers talked through their methods of using technology to support the growth of their businesses. One speaker who impressed our team was Lucy Winkett, a Rector of St James’s Church. She was inspirational, engaging and funny. During her talk, one of the questions she asked the room to consider was “who are we at work?”. She encouraged everyone to think about who they think they are, and who others perceive them to be. She then spoke about the ways in which human interactions can make our work fairer and explored how technology can help us to build a future which embraces humanity, rather than isolating us.
So what exactly does it mean to embrace humanity? Albeit from different perspectives, both UNLEASH and Changeboard reinforced the fact that we are human beings not human doings. “Who we are” is not defined by our activities but by our beliefs. Not being robots is our gift, our USP. We are not machines. People are not to be optimized but to be experienced. Quite often, we don’t need personalized experiences, we just need personal experiences. Now that we have robots we have to retrain humans how to be humans, to embrace creativity, complexity and empathy – to become less like robots than ever before because we can never be better robots than robots. We need to reinvent the value chain with people being the differentiating factor, and so people working in HR/talent have a real opportunity to be the new meaning-makers.
Vulnerability is not a weakness
Across the globe in the United States, Workhuman keynote speaker Brene Brown built on this idea of ‘being human’ as she outlined how vulnerability is a vital piece of developing a strong workplace culture. “If you set up a culture within your organization where there’s no tolerance for vulnerability, no tolerance for failure - then there’s no room for innovation, productivity, or creativity” she said. When people are in an environment where they feel they can bring their whole selves to work, they feel more connected to their organization and a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging is vital to building successful teams and businesses. It also builds trust among employees, managers and leads to better work outputs.
Engaged employees drive business success
Moreover, at HR Transform we once again heard a spin on how employees are often the determining factor between successful companies and ones that never reach their full potential. Employee engagement is driving business through human capital. Successfully building an employer brand and engagement strategy aligns a company’s culture with its brand. This creates an authentic experience and allows you to easily train employees on brand purpose and what role they play in delivering on that brand. Investing in your people is the key to business success, and if you put a promise out there, it’s vital to ensure your people are ready to deliver on it.
And it seems the final module of NextGen did a pretty great job of raising awareness of all these factors across our wider Havas community.
The module focused on leading through a disruptive and ever-changing environment with a lens on the importance of building your organizational culture and talent to drive your strategy. One quote that particularly resonated with Danni came from Vishnu Mohan; ‘Customers will not love a brand until an employee loves it’ – and at that moment there were a few ‘aha’ moments across the group at the realization of why Havas People’s specialism existed within a comms group such as Havas. If you don’t invest in creating a positive employee experience why would you think your customers are going to have a positive experience themselves – your brand isn’t a thing in isolation it is the sum of every individual you employ – if they enjoy where they work your brand is more likely to succeed.
So what has attending these events taught us? It’s confirmed that building a culture that embraces the true essence of humanity - one that puts trust in people’s strengths and supports them with their flaws - allows them to make meaningful connections with the organizations they work for. And the result of this? Meaningful experiences for your customers too, and an inevitable improvement on your bottom line. Which is exactly why we do the work that we do, across the entire people agenda, here at Havas People.
With the launch of Google’s enhanced job search results, I’m sure that is what a good chunk of the talent industry is thinking. From my perspective, jobs that are included in enriched search results have many benefits for employers, including:
· Improving the job seeking experience for candidates
· Priority placement in Google search results
· Attracting and converting more qualified candidates
While opting in for the Google enriched search results might mean some heavy lifting on the back-end of your careers site, the following rules should be considered when writing a job description to help improve your ranking and relevance within the search results:
1. Title: It is important to remember job seeker behavior when it comes to the search process. Most candidates won’t be searching for your listed job title. Rather, they will be using specific keywords. Therefore it is crucial for an employer to include a target keyword in the title – in the front of the title, if possible.
2. Body Copy: The target keyword should also be in the first sentence of the job description and used 3-5 times throughout the post. Consider using synonyms of this keyword to avoid repletion. For example, using the word “career” instead of “job.”
3. Links: Backlinks should also be added to job descriptions. This will not only help your SEO raking, but it will provide candidates with content that shows your company culture and all of the great reasons to work for your company.
Other tips to consider writing a job posting:
1. Be specific. An effective title contains details regarding the industry, function and level of the role. For example, “Senior Account Manager” and “Mid-Level Account Manager” are more descriptive than “Manager.”
2. Keep it real. Your company may use fun job titles like “Retail Jedi – Shopping Assistant,” or perhaps internal job IDs like “Retail Lead II (123456)”, but candidates are likely unfamiliar with these titles. Keep your job title basic but descriptive, and fundamentally keyword-driven.
3. Avoid superlatives or idiomatic phrases. Phrases like “rock star,” “ninja,” “expert” and “guru” are easily misclassified by search engines and can negatively impact the relevancy of your job description.
4. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. Avoid abbreviations, such as “Mgr,” “Mgmt,” and “Sr.” Spell out words fully to ensure that the title is comprehensive and distributed to the correct audience.
5. Keep it simple. The job title is the most important factor in determining relevancy in a search engine. Do not include salary, location information, job codes, non-alphabet symbols or other information not relevant to the title itself.
Finally, just try to put yourself in a candidate’s shoes or think back to when you were looking for a new job. If you can create one less step for them or one less click, the better experience they will have.
Sarah Green, Account Director