Tali Shlomo is People Engagement Director at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), where she oversees key programmes spanning diversity, inclusion, learning, development and talent. With 22 years in HR, Tali is also a valued Nominations Committee member for Amnesty UK and the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
How can today’s HR professionals optimise their career success?
Be as proactive as possible, as much as possible. At the outset of your career, be proactive about finding an employer that will sponsor your CIPD qualifications. While you’re doing that, push yourself to get as much diverse on-the-job training as possible.
Once you have a strong grounding in the organisation and your role, then it’s time to get ‘proactively creative’. Never forget that HR affects every aspect of an organisation, which means HR professionals have a huge scope for making positive impacts. Look for ways to innovate HR processes, whether it’s improving something that’s currently being done, or introducing something that isn’t. That doesn’t mean doing things for the sake of it, but looking for improvements that have clear positive impacts.
Finally, be proactive about how you present yourself and your own personal brand. Look for as many opportunities as possible to meet people inside and outside the organisation. Learn about them, and how they perform their roles. Insight can come from anywhere.
What’s the biggest challenge for employers today, and how can HR professionals address it?
Attracting and retaining talent has never been more important or more challenging. Today’s workforce is multicultural and multigenerational, and a one-size-fits-all approach runs the risk of alienating valuable employees. For example, millennials tend to be value-orientated, so you need to think about how to position your culture to align with them. This age group also tends to want ongoing feedback, which means moving away from the traditional annual appraisal system, but in a way that older employees will be comfortable with.
To succeed, HR professionals need to stay very close to the psychology of their workforce, generationally and culturally. Here, I recommend talking to other HR professionals to find out how they tackle diversity, and how they are working to create an inclusive workplace. This is an issue facing most HR professionals in the UK, and many organisations are already well on the way to adapting.
The UK has some interesting times ahead. What should HR professionals be doing?
Brexit is certainly going to be an interesting and exciting period of change, particularly legally as UK employment law is largely based on EU legislation. It will be an exciting time for HR professionals, and an opportunity to work in a changing legal landscape that impacts all our traditional policies. But to me, the key influence that HR professionals need to bear in mind is the way technology is changing the workplace. In five years, employees will be performing tasks that haven’t been invented yet. In 25 years, there will be jobs that don’t exist now. For example, artificial intelligence is going to have a major impact on the workforce, and it’s up to HR professionals to help deliver an organisational design that enables its employees to adapt.
What’s your top tip for promoting a strong workforce culture?
Engagement, engagement, engagement. HR is about people and productivity, so the main role of an HR professional is to meet as many employees as possible to find out how they feel and what they need. Employees want to do a good job and be rewarded for it, so build meaningful engagement programmes that help them to improve for their own personal success, and the success of the organisation. Naturally, learning and development will be front and centre of your engagement programmes, but also diversity and inclusion as our workforce continues to expand generationally and culturally.
Also, think about programmes that employees will see as being valuable to their personal lives. For example, the CII has wellbeing initiatives and financial wellbeing workshops. Employees find these highly beneficial, and the improvements in health and financial management also benefit the organisation.
What’s a simple modernisation that could make a huge difference to an organisation?
Find innovative ways to deliver engagement in a fun way, particularly if it includes a social element. For example, the CII celebrates cultural festivals of the world in the office, and holds film nights where the choice of film communicates an important element of social or cultural diversity. We even published a diversity cartoon booklet to help employees understand our multicultural workforce.
Another idea is to capitalise on your experts, but not just on work-related topics. We have popular ‘afternoon teas’ where a member of staff volunteers to talk about a topic they are familiar with – anything from understanding Brexit to baking cakes. Naturally, this is also a great way to get employees to meet each other.