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The Great Resignation: A conversation with our VP of People Strategy
I think many talent professionals would agree when I say that the past two years have been a challenge. From the extremes of international recruitment freezes, to significant layoffs, to inflated salaries in competitive talent markets, looming recessionary warnings or a seeming complete lack of candidates, recruitment has experienced tough times of late.
At ScreenCloud I’m responsible for our talent acquisition strategy across our three international hubs. The talent landscapes in the US, UK and Thailand always require a tailored, individualised approach to attract great talent - one size does not fit all (particularly in the emerging tech ecosystem in Thailand) and the constantly evolving picture across our international hiring continues to present new and unique challenges.
Of all the recent trends impacting growing businesses in the macro economic climate, there has been significant discussion of the Great Resignation. And now, of the Great Resignation potentially giving way to the ‘Great Regret’; a recent study (Joblist Q2 2022 U.S. Job Market Report) found that over a quarter of employees who changed jobs in the past year regretted the move, with the majority citing ‘surprise’ that their new role was more or less the same as the old.
I sat down with our VP People Strategy, Ginni Lisk, to talk about the lessons we have learnt so far, and how we have tackled them at ScreenCloud.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned from the Great Resignation?
The lesson every company should be taking from the Great Resignation is that businesses have to prioritise their employee experience at the strategy-setting level. Leadership teams must reframe their traditional view of HR functions and enable the long-overdue shift from HR acting as a reactionary service centre that is there to command, control, administer and put out fires, to being a proactive, core driver of overall company success. For companies this means investing appropriately in their operational functionality with the same proactivity they would invest in non-centralised teams.
For the HR department specifically, a mirror should be held up to how effectively they are enabling their employees - with enablement conceptualised as the opposite to the ‘command and control’ role businesses have for so long now defined People & Culture with. This means that - as far as I am concerned- HR needs to up its communications game and look at the skill sets that are being prioritised in People roles. Personally I look for first principles thinking, design-thinking, empathy-first approaches, human-centric design and an appreciation of user experience that are skill sets most commonly found in Product teams.
All HR roadmaps for 2022 and beyond must prioritise connecting with employees via a carefully curated communication landscape. Because, communication gaps create uncertainty, and people don’t stop thinking - or assuming - in those gaps. In fact our brains left to their own devices are much more likely to fill comms gaps with negative assumptions rather than good ones - for companies this means ‘no news is good news’ might not apply neatly for a workforce that, in a post-pandemic context, is feeling more enabled than ever before to request the things they need and more concerned than ever about the changing landscapes impacting them. So… let’s close those comms gaps!
How are you applying that lesson to ScreenCloud’s own retention efforts? What do people need from their employer to stay?
At ScreenCloud, it’s about practising what we preach. ScreenCloud is a scaling business that faces constant change - and the one thing that was very obvious in our most recent engagement survey is that, while all our scores are all very good, the area we need to do more in for our employees is better manage expectations, and demonstrate what we are doing with all the feedback we receive from our employees. This fits very nicely into the theme of closing comms gaps! So yes, practising what we preach is how I’d summarise it.
Ultimately, employees need to know where they stand at work, and companies need to manage expectations effectively - ‘Effectively’ needs defining though. For me it’s a combination of empathy for employees, and commercial savvy to bring people along with a company’s strategy.
People need flexibility and autonomy and trust. Enabling this means a reduction in noisy information, managing expectations honestly, and a dramatically shortened feedback loop between effort and their recognition. Of course People functions won't - and shouldn’t - deliver individual ‘counts’ of people practices or initiatives directly, they need to work with managers and leaders to proactively steer and support that cascade, channelling the future skill sets People teams need, as I’ve already mentioned. This means that HR needs to embrace tech and digital transformation.
I recently hired Karl, our People Director to bolster the People team and as a group we are focusing efforts on our OKRs and overarching people roadmap to make sure our people are as enabled as they can be, and that our roadmap ensures our own internal communication strategy is the best it can be.
I am lucky to be in a people role at a SaaS company that is building a product that has potential to redefine digital signage, and bring effective employee communication to every worker; this means our People team get to partner with our product team to tackle the challenge of creating truly connected companies. It’s a privilege and I’m excited for how we’re going to close out 2022 and launch into 2023 in ScreenCloud’s people team with more cross-functional collaboration.
What advice do you have for a manager who is faced with a top performer who is considering leaving?
Individualised career conversations should be the goal, and conversation is the key word; it should be an ongoing exchange. At ScreenCloud the People team plays an active role in nudging managers not to neglect those conversations during 1:1s and interactions with their teams.
A top-down annual performance appraisal with an allocated rating that is arbitrarily used to inform high-performance and set an equally arbitrary benchmark for what ‘good’ looks like, is old fashioned command and control HR. It’s why I don’t really like competency frameworks very much (not because they’re not a good idea by design, but because in application they’re too often implemented with a disregard for nuance or the individual the framework is being applied to. They become a box-ticking exercise that excuses managers from leaning in.) That is just not good enough as far as I’m concerned. Employees expect a more personalised experience and managers who won’t prioritise that within their reporting lines also - as harsh as this may sound - lose the right to come to a People function with sudden and surprise flight risks or retention issues, in my book! Every business is a people business, and yes people are all busy - but managers declaring themselves too busy to give feedback or to engage in a conversation about growth and development is - in and of itself - underperformance, as far as I’m concerned.
Managers are doing a crucial and oftentimes very difficult job, therefore People functions need to recognize the crucial importance of the management layer and invest in it. Give them the power and autonomy — and training — to bake an appropriate level of HR skill into their day jobs, I say! There are lots of variables that impact a People function in that context, not least resources and what is made available to make that investment, but People teams should be striving to, at all times, enable over control… to get out of people’s way rather than create more rules… to prioritise building internal products over writing policies… that sort of thing!
If you’re keen to join a company that practises what it preaches, talk a look at our currently open roles here! If you can’t see anything that’s an obvious neat fit for your skills, we’re keen to hear from you anyway - you can email me, at email@example.com
Anna Thomas, Head of Recruitment and Onboarding
Anna is our Head of Recruitment and Onboarding based in our London hub! When she’s not doing all things recruitment related and helping to hire awesome ScreenClouders into the business, she’s getting crafty… did you know she did a furniture degree?! Anna has also recently purchased a bike, so if you keep an eye out, you may just see her whizzing around the roads of South West London!