In a week in which the government asked for an extension to Article 50 following more highly divisive debating in the commons, it was refreshing to be in a room of senior HR professionals all sharing ideas in a constructive and engaging way at Ambition’s HR Directors' Dinner on Wednesday last week.
Ambition’s Chairman and co-founder Nick Waterworth led proceedings and hosted an evening with guests from across Professional Services in which various hot topics were discussed from Generation Z to the push for implementing innovation and technology in the workplace.
Talent attraction and Generation Z
Generation Z and the need for employers to attract the next talent coming through was one of the key discussion points. It was vastly the shared view that the graduates and school leavers coming through onto trainee programmes are of an extremely high calibre the like not seen before.
Academic achievement has always been one of the key criteria for many of these law firms, accountancy practices and consultancies when hiring trainees but straight As and/or strong degrees has become the standard.
There was much agreement around the table that Generation Z is so much more rounded, commercial and engaged than seen in previous generations and that they are backing up their academic achievement with highly confident and impressive interpersonal skills that give off an aura of self-entitlement to the roles they are interviewing for.
The selection process has, therefore, become even more competitive with employers finding it difficult to whittle down the quality of applicants into a shortlist for the quota of places available despite the rigorous tests, interviews and assessment days that these professional services organisations have implemented into the trainee hiring process.
Reverse mentoring and flexible working
Once hired, Generation Z and Millennials have proven to be invaluable in reverse mentoring. It was generally the view from our HR Director guests that upward mentoring has helped business leaders to remain relevant to the modern-day workplace and that the organisation is both more innovative and nimble enough to react and embrace change, whether this be in technology, culture, communication etc.
On the topic of culture, flexible working and an enhanced work-life balance remains high on the agenda for our professional services’ clients as this has allowed for improvements in the push for more female partners and equality across the business, including in the boardroom.
Policies on flexible working clearly still vary from firm to firm but the general consensus around the table was that there is still more that needs to be done to ensure that flexible working is not viewed as a benefit but as a standard part of a firm’s culture.
It was therefore interesting to hear about the positive impact that these flexible working policies were making to each firm’s ability to:
attract and retain staff,
improve overall productivity in allowing work to be conducting outside of core office hours
remain relevant to modern day working patterns of young families, millennials and Generation Z for an enhanced and happier culture.
Technology and AI
The final point to note from the evening was the discussion around the advancements in technology and how robots will soon be able to conduct many roles of a transactional nature.
Some very interesting opinions on this very topic but a consistent view that with AI entering the workplace, it should give us humans the time back to be more commercial and strategic in the way we approach and conduct ourselves at work.
A truly great evening and one we hope to repeat in the not too distant future. The Ambition team would like to thank all those who attended the event and contributed to such a positive evening. It's just a shame the government couldn’t be there to witness it.
If you are a HR Director working in Professional Services and would be interested in attending one of our future events, please get in touch.
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