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With a keynote talk from Sophie Rowan, Chartered Work and Organisational Psychologist and best selling author, the first of our HR Talks events was a brilliantly informative and interactive evening.

We’d like to thank everyone who attended. For those that didn’t, we’ve put together some of the key takeaways from the event.

US West Coast tech firms pushing the HR envelope – but where does the balance lie?

Azon CEO Ronan Colleran tracked his own professional journey, and noted the changes in attitudes to HR and talent. Undoubtedly the biggest driver of evolution in our attitudes to work has been the rise of the FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix & Google). From the famous bean bags, to iPad gifts for employees at Christmas, to fully stocked and staffed cafeterias, these tech pioneers have been leading the way.

But how far is too far? Are they reaching over the boundaries of work and life? The “always-on” nature of the modern employee is seemingly encouraged with breakfast, lunch and dinner being served all inside the workplace. Deciding on what the right mix is and what is healthy will be a key challenge for HR in the coming years.

Irish firms catching up with more of a focus on talent

Connected to the previous point, the influence of West Coast tech has absolutely affected how Irish companies view the HR function and talent management in general. From rigid structures with little to no internal movement, outdated concepts about employee happiness, viewing HR as nothing but the absolute basics of hiring & firing, Irish indigenous industry had a lot to learn.

The good news is that we have seen them learn, and quickly as the race for key skills heats up. A greater focus on health & wellbeing, HR being integrated into top level decision making and overall employee retention is being seen across the board.

Articulate your positive experiences and Martin Seligman’s PERMA model of Well-Being

One of our practical exercises of the evening was turning to a fellow attendee and sharing a simple story about a positive experience at work. When Sophie Rowan quizzed the audience on when the last time anyone had done this, the majority answered back “Never”.

The power of sharing what makes us excited, happy to do our jobs cannot be understated. This linked in with PERMA – a model for well-being developed by Martin Seligman. By communicating about our successes in work, we directly engage with some of the bases set out by Perma – Positive Emotion & Positive Relationships.

HR needs support too

HR are often looked to as the helpers, the fixers of problems that nobody else is either willing or able to deal with. This can be an enormous challenge for any HR professional, requiring them to possess a great deal of empathy, people skills and communication ability. The day to day grind of constantly being a bastion against the harder issues that can pop up in the workplace.

That’s where HR needs an outlet and a structure that can aid them in dealing with all of this. Whether that’s interfacing with upper management about struggles, liaising with outside support to understand how to sustainably manage a workforce, HR cannot stand alone, as it is often left to do.

Simple steps to a growth mindset

The Fixed vs Growth Mindset model developed by Carol Dweck has taken the world by storm, even being introduced into early life education to encourage children to have an open mind about what they can accomplish. For those of us more set in our habits and career, it can be hard to break out of preconceived notions of what you might be good or not so good at. Getting over that hump can seem like an insurmountable challenge that will drain you of time and energy you don’t have.

In another practical exercise, Sophie Rowan had attendees identify some very simple objectives to work towards. The challenge was to pick three positive habits to adopt in 21 days. Here are some examples we discussed:

  • Communicating more with a friend or colleague.
  • Laughing at work.
  • Telling someone you appreciate their contributions to the team.
  • Exercising regularly.

By starting simple, you can work up to truly improving your mindset and broadening your horizons both personally and professionally!

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