25 September 2015

When Disruptive Innovation Becomes the Norm, What Do You Do?

News was released this week that the market share of three out of the big four UK supermarkets has declined further. Losing market share to upstart discounters who have entered a mature market with a different business model is making the traditional market leaders incredibly nervous. Whilst Lidl & Aldi grew 16% and 17.3% respectively in the past twelve weeks, Asda, Tesco & Morrison’s all lost market share (even Sainsbury’s, who did manage to grow, only managed less than 1% growth over the same period, but see all stats yourself). Whilst leadership teams at the big four supermarket chains are likely still busy strategizing over the threat from the growing discount retailers, another game changing industry disruption is already underway. Amazon, who started as an online bookstore, is entering the fresh food retail market. Amazon Fresh is rumoured to be launching shortly in the UK and industry experts are still uncertain as to what this will do to the UK food retail market? How will the players in the market respond to yet another disruption? Will a new competitor from a non-related industry disrupt the UK food retail market and how will the existing market leaders respond? Will this disruption even change the buying behaviour of British consumers?


Being able to respond to disruptive innovation within your market doesn’t always require the biggest budgets, the newest technology or the largest workforce. Often it just requires a change of mind-set. Whether this be helping your clients change their view of how to apply what they already have in a different way, helping your employees change how they approach their work, helping enact a culture change or changing how leaders within the organisation recruit, reward and engage with their teams, organizations can become more agile and better able to deal with any disruptions that come their way.

    1. In recent years some of the biggest disruptions in HR have included; Social networking & the impact on employee engagement

HR had to completely readdress how to engage a workforce and a candidate pool, who were using social technology in all other areas of their life. Many HR departments have still not mastered this one, but with the pace of change within the social network space increasing, even those HR teams who consider themselves ‘social’ could soon fall behind if they don’t keep up to date with how their people are engaging with social. Even back in 2013 social only recruitment was becoming more common, with the early stage interview process also taking place via social channels or even being crowdsourced. Mastercard had some great success in attracting and recruiting their interns through social networking.

     2. Consumerization of business tech & total connectivity

The always on and always connected nature of the world today has changed how and where people work. HR often don’t meet the employees that they manage, support and engage. How HR communicate, the channels, the tone and the frequency of contact has shifted and follows a very different model to just ten years ago. Employees and customers are more tech savvy than ever. The minimum expectations of technology within the workplace has radically shifted how businesses operate, access 24/7 has become the norm and the number of HR systems in the cloud has exploded. Alongside this availability is the expectation of usability. Employees no longer expect to require training to use an HR system, it should be as intuitive as their smart phone, with a short vine or video clip required at most to explain how to complete a process.

In our industry I believe HR should be preparing for the next big disruption – whatever it may be. As Millennials (1975-1995) and Gen Z’ers (1995-2005) start to overtake the Baby Boomers (1945-1964and The Silent Generation (pre 1944) in both volume, spend and influence, the landscape in all markets is changing. No single industry will be immune. Many will have seen the references to Uber - the biggest taxi company that owns no cars, Facebook – the world’s most popular media company that creates no content, Alibaba – the world’s most valuable retailer that holds no inventory and Airbnb – the biggest accommodation provider that owns no property.

Where will the next big talent innovation come from? And are you ready to face it?

Have a look at more predictions of the 10 big disruptions facing HR read this perspective from Josh Bersin.

24 September 2015

Inspiring the Future

ITF-Logo-Final STACKEDCan you create a talent pipeline, starting with eleven year old students at high school? Perhaps you can - inspiration can be triggered by something quite simple. This week I got to talk at a local high school to over 200 young students, and the main topic was how important languages are for your career. I used the Inspiring the Future website to register my availability, it was significantly easier to sign up than to create an engaging presentation for the school assembly!

Inspiring the Future is run by a UK charity that securely connects teachers to professionals who are happy to donate an hour or two of their time to speak to students of all ages about their work and experiences. Will Butler-Adams, Managing Director of Brompton Bicycles, sits on the board of Inspiring the Future and actively promotes it, changing the perceptions of students and parents about careers in engineering. Who better to tell students about what exciting jobs are available than those working in the industry?


Success at school is strongly connected to motivation. How can you find motivation if you don’t know what work opportunities are available? When I was at school, careers advice was quite simple; obvious professions such as accountancy, medicine or public sector roles were proposed. I blame an abortive career in tax accountancy on this advice!

At Lumesse we work with companies who are facing a storm of disruption from technology in their industries but also when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. Job roles that are business critical today didn’t exist 10-20 years ago. This makes it ever more important for organisations to work with those in education to show students what possibilities exist outside of the traditional career paths. Was I sufficiently inspiring for the eleven year olds in my assembly presentation? Only time will tell. In the meantime I encourage you to sign up for Inspiring the Future.

18 September 2015

Adapting to a Multi-Gen Workforce

The millennial generation is often viewed as one of the most valuable segments of the population, mainly because of the group’s size and strong purchasing power. Millennials are commonly defined as those born between 1981 and 1995 and have now become one of the largest groups in the workforce; making up 37% of the total workforce, compared to 34% of baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1960) in the US. With Millennials currently emerging as leaders in technology, finance and other industries, a study by Deloitte shows that millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. The study also reveals that millennial employees believe that businesses are currently not doing as much as they should to develop and nurture their future leaders.

One of the ways businesses are currently attracting millennial (Gen Y) and Gen Z talent (those born after 1995) is through having internship programmes available for students. The purpose is to gain valuable experience at a company and strengthen different skills such as the ability to work in teams, develop interpersonal skills and have a better awareness of current business developments in that particular sector. In return, companies are gaining the opportunity to inject fresh ideas, talent and enthusiasm into the company. This also gives businesses a chance to appeal to tomorrow’s staff members and all they’ll have to do is choose the best of the bunch when it comes to hiring. Being on an internship programme myself, I have already gained a deeper insight into daily business operations, how to build professional relationships, networking and continuously learning office etiquettes that universities are unable to convey.

Adrian Robles, an accomplished speaker, trainer and consultant in talent management argues that generation goes beyond the birth year of an individual but also signifies the major events that each generation shares and their response to these major events has actually shaped the distinct beliefs and mind-sets of the generation. With this in mind, most modern sages advise employers to adjust their management style to meet the expectations of Gen Y or Gen Z.

Below you can find specific characteristics for each generation:

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Brands such as Ariel and Persil have already started advertising products directed for generation Z, a generation that will soon enter the workforce with an even better understanding of new technologies. As Millennials hit their early and mid-30’s, they will begin to manage the first members of Gen Z to enter the workforce. This will create an interesting work dynamic as these are two similar generations with unique differences. Research has shown that Millennials may have an easier time managing Gen Z than their baby boomer superiors did with them. This is mainly due to the similar characteristics between the two generations; high levels of confidence, a desire to learn and a “can-do” attitude towards work. Recently, there have been several articles around Gen Z. A common ideology between most articles is when looking at attracting and retaining Gen Z employees, companies need to consider that Gen Z’s key values at work include ownership and individuality. They are generally motivated by job variety, creativity and influence for their career choices while being influenced by peer groups and the internet. With the differences between Gen Z and Millennials clearly stated below, companies need to start mapping out their HR strategy to attract and retain high-performing young talent that will drive tomorrow’s growth by unlocking the next game-changing innovations.

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As my generation begins their careers, hastened by the retirement of the large baby boom generation, Millennial’s will be rapidly grabbing positions of greater responsibility and businesses will gain a new generation of skilled professionals. Businesses should regard this multi-generational shift as an opportunity to innovate and invest, not only in the millennial generation but also in the Gen Z’s.

According to Deloitte’s survey “Big Demands and High Expectations”, businesses now have the challenge of meeting the high expectations of the next generation. Companies that can meet these high expectations have the prospect of developing commercially viable products and services that benefit society, whilst also attracting the most talented members of this emerging generation.

While Gen Z is about to enter the workforce companies will need to work a lot harder to recruit and retain the best talent as the current recruitment process won’t be sufficient.  

Organisations need to start developing tomorrow’s recruitment plans today because, before we know it, we’ll be talking about whatever generation comes after Gen Z, and it might be too late!

15 September 2015

Building a High Engagement Culture

Bigstock-motivational-concept-got-mot-30228101I think everyone, at some point, has reflected on what motivates themselves and others. Before my career at Lumesse and in HR, I was a teacher, and my job was to get the best out of my pupils. I was interested in why some pupils possessed that inner drive to engage in something for its own sake and whether this could be developed in all students? It also makes business sense for employers to take note of how to best motivate its workforce. Is this through dangling rewards, or, by providing work that is meaningful and lets them find their own way of accomplishing tasks?

An interesting motivation study from Lepper and Greene took 51 children aged between two and four who liked drawing. The children were put into three groups. The first group was told they would get a certificate if they took part (expected reward). The second group would receive the same reward but were not told about it until after the drawing activity was finished (surprised reward). The third group expected no reward and didn’t receive one. The study found that having an expected reward decreased the amount of spontaneous interest the children took in drawing by half. There was no difference in motivation between the other two groups.

So, this poses an interesting question on how companies should motivate their talent and build a high engagement culture. I think we’ve all seen first-hand that rewards can work, especially for routine, rule based, left brain work, which can be easily automated or outsourced. Rewards can also work if people don’t really want to do something. However, when tasks are inherently interesting, to use rewards can backfire and reduce motivation! Studies have also found that rewards make people less creative and worse at problem-solving…not good news for business!

So, if it’s not reward, will people be motivated through the simple joy of doing something they enjoy? One of my friends has recently hiked the Appalachian Trail over a period of months and I’ve followed her journey on Facebook. At around 750 miles in she developed a pretty bad foot injury to the point where she could barely walk. Her journey certainly wasn’t filled with full of joy and happiness; she describes swollen feet, toenails lost, her back rubbed raw from her pack and countless blisters, bruises and bites. So what motivated her to continue? At the end of her adventure she talks about how grateful she is to have experienced it and about a deep fulfilment. She described it as “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but there wasn’t even a moment that I wanted to quit”. Thinking about this epic trek, it seems that people are not simply motivated by the joy of doing something, but, maybe people thrive by making constant progress and seeing a sense of purpose?

From my reading on the subject and my own observations in life, it is clear that motivations are personal and can be as unique as people themselves. Motivations are complex and building a high engagement culture can be tricky. If you’re looking for one single factor or thing you can do to improve motivation within a business, then you won’t find it within this blog, but I’ve summarised below three things businesses ought to think about.

  1. Start by paying people fairly (get the money issues off the table), then give them lots of autonomy. Autonomy is important for intrinsic motivation as people see the urge to direct their own lives. Also make it easy for employees to do their jobs by minimizing barriers and obstacles.
  2. Having purpose is another important factor for intrinsic motivation; it’s the feeling that what we do is in service of something larger than ourselves. Begin with a meaningful purpose for the organisation and be clear on how this directly affects your customers so employees have a sense of contributing to something of value.
  3. People have the desire go get better at something that matters, so invest in L&D. Provide employees with feedback so they get a sense of their progress, which will give them confidence in the choices they’ve made and also confidence in the future.

It makes good business sense to think about how to get the best out of your people and also retain your best talent. To understand motivation is to understand human nature itself, so it’s not always simple; and not all employees respond to the same motivation. The really good news is that improving employee’s motivation does not necessarily take more money. The role of a successful manager is to learn how to identify what motivates each employee and to learn to how leverage those motives. The businesses I’ve seen which get it right have one key ingredient and that is a willingness to be flexible and think creatively!

04 September 2015

Learning Maturity in Organisations Where do you want to be?

Once upon a time, not too long ago, getting some extra training or learning was considered a bonus. A reward given for being loyal to your employer or delivering above your quota; not something done to create an actual effect as far as performance goes. Or worse, “training” or “attending a conference” was the secret password for having a company-funded party. With tight budgets and financial crisis, if this was the only reason the company was doing training, chances are they have cut down heavily on it. Luckily, most companies have moved up the Darwinian ladder of competence improvement. It looks something like this:

Reasons for training or learning activities



There are many theories out there, on what motivates a person to improve, or even to just do their job. In the early industrial era, the Behaviorists ruled with their “if-you-perform-then-you-get-reward” rules. Dan Pink describes why a bonus, the carrot end of the carrot-and-the-stick, is actually damaging to any kind of creative work. According to Dan Pink what really works as a motivator are the three main points: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. However, old structures are hard to erase and change does not come easy.

During hard times, training for compliance is what keeps the training industry alive. It is often cheaper, easier and faster to do some sort of event or kick-off, if you really believe in training as a social event, good for the team spirit and nothing else. However, if there is a set of rules/certificates that you have to comply with to stay in business or be approved by the authorities, then you just have to make sure your company fills the ticket. This is often where basic e-learning proves a great tool; if all the company has to do, is prove that everyone on staff has taken the class. Training is a strong tool for change too, where every little step towards a new way of working might be hard to overcome if not done together. Training for compliance can also include keeping up with the latest development, the last software update or the new trend in your field. The stick is a very good motivator here. Sometimes it's the only motivator.

But to win the game and stay alive when disruptive forces challenge your existence, companies have to go above and beyond, make sure they are on the fourth step. This cannot be done by the Learning & Development department alone, this involves so much more from managers at all levels and a commitment from the top. The learning material is probably already out there, on TED, on YouTube or on a number of other places that you can google your way to, for free or for a fee. The challenge is not access, but guidance, quality control and performance follow-up.

To get everyone engaged in their own competence acceleration, there has to be a systematic approach in the whole company. In the war for talent, finding the high performers is not that difficult, if they are already performing. Finding and encouraging the company’s hidden or potential talents, that is the trick. It demands that we know where they are coming from to help out with the right effort at the right time and place. This is where frameworks such as the 70:20:10-model come into play. This is where benchmarking can help, and also this is where big data and HRIS can make all the difference.

28 August 2015

The Impact of Culture on Business Success?

Social-businessWith globalisation making the world a smaller place in recent years, organisations and us as individuals are now engaging with a proliferation of nations and cultures like never before. As we step into this brave new world, it is important to consider the similarities and differences between us and our global counterparts so we can leverage the most value out of these relationships. A part of this, whatever sector you are operating in, will be business culture. Your understanding of this could be the difference between failure and success. But what is culture? How can we ensure we remain appropriate with other foreign business cultures? Especially if your company is operating on an international level, it is essential to know how professional people in certain countries prefer to interact. One should therefore gain as much knowledge as possible about different cultures and manners of doing business across the globe.

In his book ‘When Cultures Collide’, Richard D. Lewis says "By focusing on the cultural roots of national behaviour, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them. Allowing us to make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us. A working knowledge of the basic traits of other cultures (as well as our own) will minimise unpleasant surprises (culture shock), give us insights in advance, and enable us to interact successfully with nationalities with whom we previously had difficulty”.

This blog is the introduction of a new series that will take a look at some of the main cultural differences you should consider when evaluating culture in your organisation, and will use a range of different environments and locations as examples. Each blog will feature a particular country, looking closely at how people in this region like to do business. Each country will be explored against the following criteria:

    1. Business Communications

The first barrier is the language; however many international businesses are capable of conducting interviews or meetings in English. In this section, I will be looking at how any featured country prefers to hold and run meetings, what language they prefer and the channels they use (face-to-face, video conference or phone meetings). Also this section will be looking at the internal communication preferences overall.

    2. Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are always hard, especially in a new environment. Some people are very good at it some not as much. Understanding the use of humour in the business context is an essential to ensure it is pitched right for each audience. In this section I will look closely at what is the best way to start a conversation, and what you should use as an ice breaker.

    3. Business Etiquette

Etiquette and manners are an integral part of any business transaction, no matter what the location. But how you greet people, is the eye contact appropriate while speaking? Your use of body language can greatly vary from one culture to the next. Also what is appropriate when presenting yourself, in terms of dress code or punctuality?

    4. Top 3 Do’s and Don’ts

This section will show you three top things to avoid when you are in meetings or interviews with individuals from any selected region and three things which will help you fit in and interact successfully.

So why am I so interested in understanding business cultures from around the world? Well, from my own experience having interviews in various places around Europe, emigrating from Poland to the UK, I felt this insight might even help you get a competitive advantage. Of course you may already have heard some myths or stereotypes about how different cultures interact. However more often than not, blanket stereotyping is not applicable and it is a deeper understanding of cultural drivers and motivations that is required, especially in the business environment. As an international company we should take the time to consider how we engage with our international colleagues, customers and partners and be aware of areas that may cause confusion or offence.

It is crucial to know what to expect from different nationalities, when communicating, conducting interviews, meetings, events etc. You need to make sure that you are respecting other cultures whilst giving them the tools and outline what is expected of them, so both sides can feel comfortable. Reading this series of blogs will hopefully educate you to some of the subtle differences between you and your international colleagues, helping you to relax and be more comfortable.

25 August 2015

95% of Companies Do Not Use Purpose-Built Technology To Onboard New Hires. Do You?

We recently ran a webinar on how to drive returns from your Onboarding programme and we looked at the importance of using technology to support this process. While the market continues buzzing about the role onboarding has in driving employee retention, productivity and engagement, the reality is that companies are still not investing enough time and focus on honing their onboarding strategies.

In fact, analyst firm Aberdeen concluded that even though 71% of organisations plan to increase hiring in the next 12 months, only 32% have a formal onboarding process in place to augment this uplift. This presents a gap and a missed opportunity to engage your new hire from day 1 and convert them into a loyal employee who gets productive faster.

I have experienced this missed opportunity first hand as a candidate/new hire in my career, whereby I was carefully hand-held during the recruitment process by the recruiter and agency, only to be left in the cold as soon as I accepted the offer with almost all engagement coming to a screeching halt. That left me wondering as a candidate, who’s yet to step into the new workplace, whether my new employer really cared that much about my position and how important it truly was. While I was still very excited to start my position, there was something niggling at me. Fortunately in my case the situation was quickly resolved, however negative feelings can quickly compound if there’s no plan in place to encourage new hires to feel welcome or to get them up and running in their new job quickly. My job worked out OK, but the onboarding experience was less than stellar and it was very much a missed opportunity to truly engage and excite me about the business and its aims and goals.

And now, being on the employer side of things, I realise that a best-in-class onboarding process is about knowing what you want to achieve from onboarding, but also having the technology to support you with it. A great onboarding solution can do a lot to amplify your vision for your onboarding programme, like creating a completely personalised experience for each new hire, helping them get acquainted with the job before they actually set foot in your company and filling out all these admin forms faster and easier, directly online.

So back to our results, which were fascinating and do show organisations have a long way to go to truly perfect their onboarding approach.

Our first question was: How would you describe your organisation in terms of onboarding approach?

The answer choices were

Have ad-hoc, paper based processes.

Have a standardised process, led by HR and very administratively focused approach.

Have some portal technology and allow new hires to complete a few tasks before their day 1 on the job.

Enhanced process in place with dedicated onboarding technology in place to allow personalised onboarding based on the type of job, location, etc. that begins as soon as offer is accepted.

The results? 



Our second question was: What technology do you currently use to drive your onboarding process?

The results were mixed, but as suspected, only 5% invested in a purpose-built onboarding solution while the rest were a combination of Excel, paper-based and some bespoke solution, built In house or Core HR.


So there you have it! If you are interested to learn more about onboarding and why it matters to help turn your candidate into a loyal, productive new hire and employee, then listen to our recording please click here.

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