The event attracted more than 400 HR directors, managers and business leaders. At the summit, delegates heard contributions from a range of speakers who explored the key trends affecting the workplace. Unsurprisingly there was a strong focus throughout the day on the topic of employee development as a means of attracting and retaining talent.
Ireland still faces challenges in attracting talent
Ibec President Anne Heraty told delegates that Ireland still faces challenges in attracting and retaining talent. A recovering economy and labour market brings with it different stresses for HR professionals, such as wage pressure and skills shortages but it also brings new opportunities and the potential to try new things, reinvigorate our skill set and excel in new areas.
The task now, according to Ms Heraty who is also CEO of CPL Resources, is for government to redesign our tax system, our labour market and our investment policies for an island of 10 million.
This will make Ireland a great place to live and work and a location that attracts and retains skilled talent.
71% of companies plan pay increase in 2017 with the median increase set to be 2%
To coincide with the Summit, Ibec published its latest HR Update, which included the results of a new pay survey. Speaking at the event, Ibec Director of Employer Relations Maeve McElwee told delegates that the survey found that 71% of companies plan to increase basic pay next year, 2017 and that the median pay increase is set to be 2%, similar to the last three years.
Adding that pay awards in 2016 remained relatively modest, with a median increase of 2.2%, Ms McElwee emphasised that a significant number of companies still cannot afford pay rises but said that, due to record low inflation, the economy as a whole is going through a period of strong real wage growth. Saying that this needs to be reflected in pay expectations, she warned that recent highly inflated pay claims in the public sector are at odds with the current economic reality and what is reasonably affordable.
The focus, she said, must remain on job creation, especially given the heightened uncertainty that Brexit and currency pressures present. Revealing that the HRUpdate showed that 42% of companies plan to increase staff numbers next year, Ms McElwee warned that if costs spiral and we lose our competitive edge, we will pay for it in jobs.
65% of children born today will work in a job that does not currently exist.
In his address NGA’s Stephen Foster told delegates we are experiencing a fourth industrial revolution in the form of the ‘Internet of things’. We live in a world characterised by massively disruptive smart technologies that impact on transport, how we work and our social lives. Research suggests, according to Dr Foster that by 2030 we will witness a two-tier society. The first tier will be comprised of the talent pool that runs the machines and the second tier, an under- class of people who may never work or find suitable employment. The jobs that will resist this automation will be the creative occupations such as hairdressing. By comparison, in the foreseeable future, we can expect to see robots will be processing legal documentation!
Dr Foster said the “gig economy” has firmly entered employment vocabulary. In his view, in the coming year, employers will go on-line to bid for talent (not unlike the old practice of bosses using labourers’ hiring fairs). We are also likely to see portfolio working a term that describes people who work on a number of different projects for different organisations. Research suggests, said Dr Foster, 65% of children born today will work in a job that does not currently exist.
Connect people to something compelling, make in inclusive, make it fun.
Clodagh Logue, Senior Director, International HR at Fitbit described to delegates how Fitbit had undergone such rapid expansion. The company mission has been, in tandem with this growth, to build a culture that rewards and engages all employees.
Ms Logue told delegates that most people strive for meaning in their work and no one sets out to underperform. The trick, she said, is to connect people to something compelling (Fitbit’s mission statement is ‘Fitbit’ helps people lead healthier lives) make it inclusive, make it fun.
The performance management system in the company does not follow the traditional format rather employees set goals with managers, meet them at regular intervals thereafter to talk about what support they need, what they are most proud of and what they could have done better. The company also actively promotes adaptive leadership behaviours and helps and supports managers in managing in motivating and engaging employees. Fit bit is at pains to ensure that teams do not feel they have to slavishly follow goals set at the start of the year, they have scope to veer of course during the year if changing business needs or customers needs require it. Rapid expansion in the company means new people join teams every week bringing in new ideas. The workforce is diverse reflecting the similarly diverse customer base.
To attract the right people into the organisation, a company must constantly ask itself what is our value proposition in the market for employees.
Freek Vermuelen, an Associate Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at London Business School in his address at the Summit told attendees that every firm faces two markets that for customers and that for employees adding that a strategic approach to HR can be an important source of competitive advantage. In his view, organisations should have a clear idea about the people they wish to recruit and hire applicants that they believe will fit into the organisation (rather than those with remarkable records). To attract the right people into the organisation, a company must constantly ask itself what is our value proposition in the market for employees? What counts are the “organisational circumstances” when it comes to ensuring that the best performances are extracted from individuals.
The implementation of process management systems such as ISO 9000, often has the effect of suppressing innovation, in Prof Vermuelen’s view whereas in firms where the organisational circumstances where employees collaborate during the course of their work and are given the freedom and permission to experiment and innovate – this leads to higher achievements and greater engagement.
Why people work
In their address, Lindsay McGregor, CEO, Vega Factor and Neel Doshi, Co-founder, Vega Factor confirmed that to build a high performing culture, you must first understand what drives peak performance in individuals. The answer sounds simple: why you work affects how well you work.
All companies need a purpose a reason the company exists. There is a spectrum of reasons, or motives, for why people perform an activity. The first three, which they term direct motives, are directly linked to the activity and drive performance. Direct motives include play, purpose and potential. The next three, the indirect motives, are further removed from the work itself and frequently harm performance.
An individual is most likely to succeed in any endeavor when their motive is ‘play’. Play occurs when and individual is engaging in an activity simply because you enjoy doing it. The work itself is its own reward. Curiosity and experimentation are at the heart of play. People intrinsically enjoy learning and adapting. We instinctively seek out opportunities to play. Because the play motive is created by the work itself, play is the most direct and most powerful driver of high performance.
A step away from the work itself motive, is the purpose motive. The purpose motive occurs when you do an activity because you value the outcome of the activity (versus the activity itself). You may or may not enjoy the work you do, but you value its impact. The purpose motive is one step removed from the work, because the motive isn’t the work itself, but its outcome (and therefore a less powerful motive than play).
The third motive is potential. An individual does the work because it will eventually lead to something they believe is important, such as their personal goals.
The potential motive is not as powerful as play or purpose, since it relates to a second order outcome of the work, which is two (or more) steps removed from the work itself.
Doshi and McGregor describe play, purpose, and potential as the direct motives because they’re most directly connected to the work itself. As a result, they typically result in the highest levels of performance. Research the pair conducted for their book Primed to Perform, suggested that a culture that inspires people to their jobs for play, purpose, and potential creates the highest and most sustainable performance.
Direct motives typically increase performance and indirect motives (such as emotional, economic or inertia) typically decrease it. High levels of total motivation occur when a person feels more of the direct motives and less of the indirect motives. Total motivation is the foundation of any high performing culture. A high performing culture is a system that maximizes adaptive performance through total motivation. Adaptive performance refers to someone having the freedom and ability to make adjustments to their job while they are doing
Job seekers expect transparency
Lauren Wright is Sales Director for Europe Africa & the Middle East with Glassdoor, a fast expanding Californian based 'talent solutions' group traced the evolution of the hiring process from the old world of the 'help wanted' sign to the newspaper classifieds to online classified and on to a situation where the job seeker understands not just the skill sets but the mind sets of the organisation.
Job seekers really expect transparency according to Ms Wright. HR is now a function, not simply tasked with driving rules and regulations, but one that drives the business forward and enables the sort of corporate transparency (including pay awarded to peers) that employees now expect. The HR team is seen as performing a critical role, assisting with workforce planning, acting as business advisor.
At Eli Lilly two distinct career paths - one managerial, one technical have been developed to attract and retain staff
Catherine Giblin is HR Director for Eli Lilly in Ireland. The US-based pharma company engaged in a downsizing programme on foot of a decline in its chemical synthesis business. Almost one hundred left the plant leaving less than four hundred on site at the end of 2011. This exercise co-incided with the ramping of the company’s biotechnology operation which saw almost 100 employees retrain and return to school. At the plant, two distinct career paths have been developed, a leadership path and a technical path. This is acknowledgment on the part of the company that some people wish to concentrate on their speciality (employees are also offered scope to switch specialities) rather than on moving up a managerial ladder.