A central theme at this year’s Unleash event in Paris, France, which took place on October 12-13, was the many global issues that are currently challenging HR teams around the world.

The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis, and the looming recession were all cited as posing threats to our global economy.

The importance of how a company develops its culture and builds a sense of belonging when its workforce is remote or hybrid was also highlighted. Because without a sense of culture or belonging, when faced with the uncertainty of so many recurring global obstacles, talent, if unhappy, will leave.

Despite this list of doom and gloom, Roberto Di Bernardini, CHRO at Danone, told the audience that “there has never been a better time to work in HR.” Di Bernardini believes the pandemic even had a bright side as it showed how vital HR is to a company’s success. Similarly, Peter Hinssen, Co-Founder and Partner at nexxworks, has also taken positives from the pandemic, seeing it as a “digital stress test” that has allowed remote work to take root and flourish.

The “never normal” world

Costas Markides, a Business Theorist at London Business School, kicked off the opening day of main stage talks at Unleash by discussing how we all now live in the “never normal,” a cycle of continuous overlapping crises. This phenomenon is a unique strategic leadership challenge and Markides compared it to a boxer constantly getting punched in the ring.

Due to the “never normal,” companies must now figure out how to:

  • Plan for long-term strategies.
  • Organize to be agile and ready to pivot.
  • Lift their employees emotionally.
  • Mobilize their whole organization to fight disruption after disruption.

Creating a supportive environment at work

The importance of creating a more supportive work environment regularly echoed around the speaker stages at Unleash. The solution is to ensure that companies put their values at the front and center of their organization. This assertion was backed up by several statistics regarding the pressure, stress, and unhappiness that the modern worker experiences due to living in the “never normal” world of ongoing global crises.

For example, a recent McKinsey study found that 25 percent of 15,000 employees surveyed across the globe are experiencing burnout symptoms. Markides used a clever comparison highlighting that (the majority of) employees are full of energy and passion when at home with their friends or family. Thus, he asked, what changes when we go to work?
For Markides, there was only one obvious answer: the environment. “Toxic cultures sap away energy, passion, and initiative,” he said.

Attracting and retaining talent

CEO Southern Europe for Accor Group, Maud Bailly also emphasized the role of the company and stated that work-life balance is key to attracting and retaining talent.

Bailly pointed out that there are currently 360,000 vacant positions in the hospitality sector. Her solution to this obstacle is twofold; one, take care of your workers, and two, embody your values.

To illustrate her solutions, she highlighted examples from her own line of work at Accor, a brand of hotel chains. Bailly outlined how you cannot own a fancy hotel with a nice restaurant for your guests but expect your staff to eat their lunch in a rundown room out the back.

To her mind, the area where your team takes their breaks should be as lovely as the area where the guests they serve eat. In terms of embodying company values, Accor is committed to tackling climate change issues like carbon, plastic, and food waste, all values that many of their young staff care about. Their 1,900 hotels are on track to eliminate single-use plastic by the end of the year.

Companies must become non-linear

Naturally, this “never normal” world is unfamiliar, unsettling, and challenging to the traditional modus operandi for many companies.

Peter Hinssen of nexxworks stressed that companies must be non-linear to succeed and get the best out of their workforce. He quotes Stephen Hawking (“intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”) while highlighting how Amazon used to sell second-hand books online. Now, they’re the most significant cloud business in the world.

Another speaker, Erin Meyer, Professor of Management Practice at INSEAD and best-selling author of “No Rules Rules,” similarly highlighted how Netflix used to sell DVDs from a warehouse, became a streaming platform, and has now pivoted to being a media production company too.

Di Bernardini believes that companies must give complete flexibility to their employees to attract and retain talent. He does not think a set hybrid mode of three days remote and two in the office or four days remote and one in the office will work. Instead, companies that can “accept the challenge of being fully flexible for their workforce” will have a significant competitive advantage.

“Treat your people how you want them to treat your customers”

Overall, the messaging at Unleash was clear and concise. To tackle the issues of attracting and retaining talent and combatting burnout, companies must give meaning to their workforce and put people at the center of their work. Naturally, HR must pivot and adapt to steer companies through these rough waters.

The key to success will be creating a supportive work environment that removes red tape, bureaucracy, bad bosses, and bad culture that sucks the life out of a workforce. Additionally, recognizing employees’ output will motivate them to do more and create a positive cycle or reinforce culture and values. When people like their job, they will do a lot more for their company.

As Bailly said, “Treat your people how you want them to treat your customers.”

How G-P can help

Attracting and retaining talent becomes easier when you expand your recruitment strategy globally. By partnering with G-P as your company expands worldwide, you can find, hire, onboard, manage, and pay world-class employees.

Thanks to our team of legal and HR experts, and our #1 SaaS-based Global Growth Platform™, you can grow opportunities globally by supporting all your teams locally. Our industry-leading 98% customer satisfaction rating from all onboarded global employees speaks for itself. We take the pain out of managing global HR, payroll, benefits, and more.

Download our Global Hiring Handbook to learn about international hiring or request a free proposal to see how G-P can alleviate the time, cost, and risk throughout your company’s global expansion journey.

Enjoy Reading This?
Contact Us