Havas Talent Bites event

I’m well behind with event write-ups but thought I’d just get down, in rough form, some of the key takeaways from this event back in October.

It was the first time I’d received an invite and all the presentations were really good.  Apparently the topic of workplace/organizational/employee culture was ‘softer’ than some they’ve had in the past but there was still plenty of good data and takeaways.


  • data, including their own, shows engagement does impact performance
  • improvements to culture and feeling valued more important than increases in pay for engagement

I queried some of the data in terms of cause and effect, for example can you argue share price performance is linked to good engagement scores on Glassdoor surveys or are people using data such as Glassdoor’s to impact their share buying behaviors?  Obviously share buying algorithms are complex but it’s also probably fair to say your company will perform well across multiple metrics if culture is good.

  • data shows importance of transparency, recognition, communication from leadership, solicitation of feedback, listening to feedback

I used Glassdoor a bit when job hunting but don’t think I actually used it when researching my, now, employer.  So the event was a useful reminder to use it as part of the brand positioning, particularly for ‘people’ teams trying to build engagement and a feeling that learning is important [or indeed that learning is work and work is learning].  Indeed a few jobs ago we actively responded to comments on social media about my department – some examples were given in the Q&A where orgs are really joined up on this and actively using gd as a brand platform.


Talked about the transformation of their business and the importance of cultural fit for new hires and bringing existing staff along.  There was discussion around recruiting by attitude and training the skill from there.  Their leadership model aiming to: Align, model, coach, reinforce way forward.

Liked their idea of having staff engage in “Social Fridays” – 30mins every month on how to engage with social.  Hope to snowball from your people into quality recruitment and support transformation.  They are also offering training to non-employee groups, including alumni and those on maternity (which is a great idea).


There were a few snippets, stories and ideas in this that I liked including:

  • The way to portray culture as the connection between the “I” and “we” in the workplace.
  • The point that if you are going to articulate the company’s values and behaviors then you need to reinforce those at every touch point.  Including describing the work of the organization via the behaviors (I doubt many do this very well).
  • Consistent recruitment, including ways to avoid unconscious bias, also important.

Time for a rethink on ‘support’ services?

Starting my London-based career in an ‘Information Services’ team has led to me always having quite an interest in the semantics of support departments. Information has become a hugely overused term since then, closely associated with the ‘Knowledge Economy’, as business and academia have worried about the growth of technology and overload of web content in the last 20 years.  However, whilst information teams have often dwindled in the face of ‘free’ material on the open web other support services continue along.

At a CILIP event about 5 years back there was an agitated former Institute of Information Scientists member who was furious at perceived continued dumbing down, in other words, a focus on libraries rather than information science. The challenge, of course, is that ‘information’ is a term largely usurped by technology, either as IT or ICT. In this respect the BCS and other groups have usurped the second I in CILIP and there were valid opinions expressed that the CILIP renaming debacle could of done worse than to embrace the old ‘Library Association’ moniker. However, the risk with this would be to alienate members, such as myself, who have long moved on from physical spaces whilst still using an information orientated mindset (I tend to avoid ‘skills’ here as I fear that might be over-egging my pudding!).

So if “information” has become synonymous with technological solutions and support departments what for those with an information mindset?  In many cases they will be found embedded within another traditional department such as research, HR, marketing or training/learning. They may (like me) or may not have formal academic credentials in these areas but do have the option of engaging with professional bodies and potentially seeking professional status such as MCILIP, CMALT, etc.

Of course the challenge is that in ‘knowledge’ (and many other) roles ICT solutions are essential, and I include the C to recognize the role of communication and collaboration tools.

So what of all these support teams? Well, whilst ICT and the currently vogue ESN have tried to break silos they often still exist.  This often is not helped by the splits to C-Suite reporting across various groups including COOs, Heads of People and (of course) the CIO.

What I’m going to suggest today though is that disciplinary focus doesn’t help. Instead let’s pick the best elements to create a single support structure. But what to call it? Well how much your (and I’m largely talking office based support here) support make up of your workforce will impact.

However let’s adopt “Productivity and Performance”. In this model, Ullrich-esque HRBPs can become performance consultants and help identify where things need to improve and have full scope of measures (finance and other data) versus solutions (digital solutions for marketing and learning), etc.

Obviously organisations will vary but it’s starting to feel like claiming the ‘productivity’ name is a solution – as recognised by Microsoft, Apple and others who recognise software by that name. Indeed if one looks at the latest top 100 tools for learning many are not ‘learning’ specific but productivity/office focused. Many on this list would appear for a lawyer, finance, marketing and other pros.  Let’s recognize the value in the tech and bring together the support staff with different mindsets, strengths and expertise.