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How to Lead in Today’s Changing Workforce

In this webinar, listen to Jim Link, CHRO at Randstad, lead by moderator Shannon Pritchett speak about his work passions and insights around generational strategies, re-imagining today’s workforce structure, new leadership competencies for GenZ, and more!

We recommend you hear straight from the experts, but we’ve summarized a few key takeaways below.

How the CHRO of Randstad Got Started

Jim Link takes care of Human Resources in North America for Randstad, the largest human capital company in the world. Born and raised in Western Kentucky on a working family farm, he learned early on in life the value of hard work and ingrained himself the saying that “just because you planted a seed did not always mean it would sprout.” These were lessons that have served him well throughout his life and career.

Professional stints at General Electric, Pillsbury Co., and Porsche led him to his current role at Randstad.

Generational differences and strategies

Understanding millennials and Gen Z have been hot research topics for HR and talent acquisition professionals. Randstad has done extensive research on generational strategies and Jim Link says, “what we find is that young people who come into the workforce have a very different set of expectations than generations before them. A lot of that appears to be driven by their digital-native behaviors… Millennials started the technology transformation in this country, and the Gen Z-ers are all the way there. They really don’t know life without instantaneous access to information and knowledge and capability at the touch of their fingertips, and we are woefully unprepared as a society and as organizations today.”

The way work looks, how work gets done, where it gets done, and with what degree of effectiveness it gets done will change. It’s important employers prepare for the expectations of these individuals, and learn how they can maximize their talents and capabilities.

However, the digital generation doesn’t want everything digital. Research from Randstad in 2016 and then confirmed again in 2018 shared that while folks in their early 30s prefer digital communication for routine matters, for topics deemed to be important, the preferred method of communication is face-to-face.

Another generational difference is the frequency of feedback. For younger folks in the workplace, feedback is part of a normal process, as they’ve been getting feedback ever since they posted their first picture on social media. To them, feedback is instantaneous and real-time, and companies and organizations are still adapting to how to do that. Randstad has moved to a much more frequent surveying process, and they encourage mentoring, reverse mentoring, feedback circles and more to ensure that feedback occurs more often than an annual review, and instead is part of their culture.

The most surprising finding to Jim Link about the younger generations is related to benefits. Research from Randstad in 2016 and then confirmed again in 2018 shared that of all benefits, to millennials, the benefit that was most valued was flexible work arrangements. A structure other than a defined beginning time every day and a defined ending time every day is more desired than promotion opportunities, healthcare, learning and development, etc. It’s the most important benefit that you can provide to them, and it’s potentially low cost.

Passion and strategy to achieve equity

When asked about his passions, Jim Link shared that, “I’m a very big believer in equity… to me equity is at the end of a continuum that starts with ideas of diversity moves to ideas of inclusion which leads in my mind to equality and equality once recognized in an organization should lead naturally in the way I think of it to equity.”

“I spend a lot of time trying to ensure that we have an inclusive work environment where you can bring your entire self to work on a daily basis, where you can be valued for who you are and what you are, as well as what you bring into the company and how you perform. And if we are doing a great job at that here at Randstad, and if we’re encouraging our clients and customers to do the same, then we’re creating a culture of equality and that’s really what I’m after.”

In order to achieve equity, Jim Link shares that there is no switch you can turn on overnight. To achieve workplace equity, you start with:

  • Good intentions
  • The right leadership
  • Measuring and holding people accountable

“A lot of times it’s as simple as just asking questions and making people aware, but it’s also learning and development. It’s structured training programs to set new expectations. It’s building executive diversity councils, participating in diversity exercises, looking at your own internal population and deciding where you have weaknesses when it comes to diversity of any type, and then holding ourselves accountable to getting that fixed.”

“Leaders I think look at this as an exercise, and it’s not an exercise, it is a change in mindset and it’s a change in cultural expectation.”

Jim Link also stresses the importance of having a trusted inner circle where you can ask questions that you may be fearful to ask. Your inner circle can help you recognize unintentional biases and while knowing questions are coming from a place of good intentions. They can hold you accountable and ensure your actions reflect your ideals.

New leadership competencies

Jim Link also shares that the capability to determine the amount of emotional intelligence in someone is hugely significant. Study after study has shown that the most effective leaders who have staying power have huge amounts of EI. They tend to create the best results, have the most followership, develop people behind them, prepare themselves for their own exit so that others can be ready around them and just have better long-term results.

On top of emotional intelligence, top leadership competencies to lead younger generations include:

  • Entrepreneurship: The ability to innovate will be important.
  • Decompression: Everyone looks down at their screens now, so future leaders will need to learn to lift folks up and help them come to the surface.
  • Vision: Looking to the horizon and seeing where teams are headed and anticipating needs is a skill future leaders need.

Jim Link believes emotional intelligence will be even more important in future leaders as technologically advanced employees who need more coaching in softer sciences like conflict resolution, negotiation, leading, managing, and prioritizing continue to enter the workforce.

How TA and HR leaders can prepare for artificial intelligence

“The next big frontier, and has been for the last few years, is in the recruiting of, assessment of, and the identification of great candidates… We’re already seeing it and through companies like AllyO you’re seeing a disruption happening there and it’s happening at a very very rapid pace.”

“It never fails that whatever I’m presenting on this topic there’s some talent acquisition leader sitting out there in the audience who tentatively raises their hands and says you know ‘should I be fearful of what might lie ahead as it relates to artificial intelligence and technology?’ And my answer to them always is ‘absolutely not.’ The opposite is true. You should be grasping that technology because at the end of the day what that technology is doing… is actually making your job easier. It is making you more productive, more effective, more efficient, and better able to to to get to the right person to fill the position that you’re recruiting for on that particular day.”

Jim Link’s advice to talent acquisition leaders today is to use every technological tool at their disposal, but make the human touch their strategic differentiator. AI is just another tool that we need to deploy to effectively reach our goals.

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Predictions for the future

Finally, here are Jim Links predictions for future workplace trends that HR and TA leaders need to focus on in 2020 and beyond:

  1. Work design and work architecture. Today’s young workers value flexibility and want interaction; not a cube. Anticipate change in the content and quality of assigned tasks, how that job is accomplished, and how employees are held accountable for results.
  2. Evolution of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to see an evolution of diversity, inclusion, equality and equity that will be talked about on a continuum. Companies building themselves up to a better place on that continuum it’s a matter of business survival.
  3. Switch between transactional work and strategic work. Thanks to technological advances, the real work will be in strategy, not transactional activity.
  4. Tech, touch, collaboration. Whether you’re working in the talent acquisition space, an employee relations call center, or you’re a benefits analyst, those things are going to play more and more of a role in that collaborative approach to producing a better result.
  5. Hiring for soft skills. Many folks are coming into the workforce with the right technical skills, but not enough soft skill competencies. Those soft skills will need to be demonstrated so they can be trained up.

Follow along on LinkedIn or Twitter for more advice from the HR experts.

 

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