Talent Acquisition Leaders Breakfast: Key Learnings

On Wednesday 16 November, we held a Talent Acquisition Leaders Breakfast where Danielle Harmer and Adrian Shooter talked about key trends and issues surrounding talent management.

The breakfast was a great opportunity to hear from Talent Acquisition Leaders about the future of hiring and learn from each other the next steps they should be undertaking to hire and retain diverse talent in an ever-evolving market.

Some of the themes discussed included the best approaches to engage diverse talent, the role hybrid working is playing into hiring and retention, and how Talent Acquisition has changed to adapt to current ways to working.

Hiring Diverse Perspectives

In their conversation, Danielle and Adrian spoke about ways in which organizations need to be prepared to hire diverse talent. They firstly touched upon creating a job description that is inclusive, and advised the group to always look at the candidate experience through the candidate’s eyes.

In considering the experience of diverse talent, the language used in job descriptions should be understandable to those outside of the sector if you are widening the search so candidates with transferrable skills will know whether the job is suitable for them. Making job titles gender-neutral, reviewing gender-coded language and removing specific and non-essential job experiences from the description is incredibly important to help widen the pool of candidates.

They also advised about always advertising salaries. Excluding salaries inhibits candidates from asking for better pay, particularly people of color and women. People of color are generally offered lower salaries by hiring managers and often find negotiating harder, as unconscious biases in recruitment processes often position them as less deserving of higher monetary awards, while for women, omitting salaries perpetuates the gender wage gap, as women are less likely to negotiate for a higher salary.

Danielle and Adrian also recommended keeping in mind how the future of work will change. Consider the workplace in 5-7 years in order to get the right people with the skills and capabilities that are currently missing and retain them for the future. There’s a new generation that are starting to enter the workforce with skills that reflect the requirement of new customers. Danielle highlighted that Aviva’s customers mostly want to speak to someone on the phone, however the new generation of customers want processes to be automated. In order to fulfill these requirements, organizations need to hire new talent who are more tech and digital savvy, who will then also assist in upskilling and reskilling existing employees.

When talking about attaining and retaining diverse talent into the organization, both Adrian and Danielle spoke about considering organizational structure and design to facilitate more diversity by ensuring that businesses have in place policies and processes that enable diverse talent to excel. One of these processes included having a People Analytics Team, as these can provide data that facilitates searches, hiring, and onboarding procedures. Data is also useful to track whether referral hires are more successful than outsourced hires.

At Aviva, Danielle found that when hiring for senior roles, carrying out a search in-house for diverse talent resulted in only around 40% of the talent pool being diverse. When outsourcing the search to executive search firms, 90% of the talent pool are diverse candidates, however People Analytics Teams are finding that hiring managers are disproportionally hiring straight white men. This discovery enabled Talent Acquisition leaders to require justification of the process from hiring managers to ensure that their decision is the right one.

Hybrid Working

When it comes to hybrid work, there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and organizations need to be aware of individual biases, including their own. Hybrid working is a challenge because every single person has an agenda: either people like remote working because it gives them freedom otherwise not found in an office, or they prefer to be in an office because it gives them more structure, so overall employee feedback is not wholly enough to make a decision for or against it. Organizations must wait on data to determine what the best outcome is, and it’s different for each company depending on culture. In Poland, 75% of roles are currently being advertised as fully remote.

As an example, Adrian said that when first establishing a hybrid work schedule, PMI employees were required to, on average, come to the office twice a week every week, however this rule has not gone down well with the workforce despite data suggesting that there is a healthy amount of time that employees should spend in an office.

Hybrid work is also enforcing gender roles as Danielle has found that in Aviva, in situations where there are heterosexual couples with children, women are coming in less to the office as they are still assuming the carer responsibility.

Another issue that has come up when hybrid working is that some office spaces are not fit for purpose for the current climate of video call meetings. At the moment, the average work day is still mostly being spent in video call meetings, and if the office doesn’t have an infrastructure to handle that, hybrid work becomes incredibly tricky to carry out day-to-day tasks. In order to facilitate hybrid working, companies need to adapt their offices for latest technological advances.

The group has also found that an entirely remote workforce has taken an impact on culture. Culture matters in the workplace because it gives employees a sense of belonging and connects them to the business and colleagues. It has been difficult to build culture when most of the workforce is remote, resulting in managerial issues due to relationships not being established, and therefore a high turnover; people join a company because of people and culture, but they leave because of managers.

How Has Talent Acquisition Changed?

Looking at how Talent Acquisition has changed in the last few years, Danielle and Adrian emphasized that Talent Acquisition professionals need to think about the future of the organization and what is required to take the company to the next stage. They reminded the group to consider the problem instead of coming up with the solution: which means leaders need to question what the business is trying to achieve with a new hire and solve that problem by appointing a person who will innovate it. Adrian said that it’s especially important to take risks once it’s understood what is needed of the role, and to think of wildcards – someone who is going to innovate and upgrade the company. He recalled that when working in banking, Adrian hired an executive who came from mobile phone services, and this resulted in innovations into mobile banking.

When the role is fulfilled, Adrian and Danielle reminded the group that hiring managers need to keep in mind that for the first 100 days they are the first port of call for new hires, and that they must watch out for them when it comes to protecting new ideas. New hires need to be protected so they keep innovating, rather than being forced into the status quo.

Continuing the Conversation

Our appreciation goes to Danielle and Adrian, and to everyone who attended and contributed their opinions and tips on talent management. Audeliss has been supporting organizations with diversifying senior leadership for over 11 years, and if you would like to talk to us about your approach to diverse talent acquisition, please get in touch.